Every so often I catch an edition of Rogue Traders, a BBC consumer show that uses secret filming to trap unscrupulous tradesmen. In the past it has been everything from solar panel salesmen to gardeners, and is usually a catalogue of dodgy selling techniques, and shoddy workmanship.
Tonight, the subject of the programme was fly tipping, a recurring problem all over the country, and something that our local councils have to spend large amounts of our money to deal with. One of the underlying reasons for people fly tipping is that to dump any commercial waste at a suitable site in the UK, commercial companies dumping waste are charged a landfill tax – essentially they have to pay to dispose of the rubbish – therefore it’s a lot easier to dump it for free somewhere out of sight and pocket the cash, which of course is why it’s such a problem.
Watching the programme I was expecting to see things like the example they showed of a skip hire firm burning waste in an area of outstanding natural beauty, but the other firm featured was quite impressive in the audacity of where they chose to dump the waste. It is worth mentioning as well that this other example had also recognised the presenter of the programme in his disguise and still illegally dumped the rubbish – the programme even had pictures of him doing it!
The programme had hidden a selection of tracking devices in the rubbish they asked to be cleared in order to track it’s movements after it had been removed. In this case the firm was operating in Barnet, but rather than dump the rubbish out in some rural spot, they instead dumped the rubbish in somebody else’s drive elsewhere in the local area. There didn’t seem to be any particular plan, the driver just seemed to have driven around until he found a likely looking spot, tipped out the contents of his truck and driven off. I was just open mouthed at it, especially when, even having been suspicious that he was on the programme, he did it again. The other amusing irony of the whole programme is that the secret filming also included the driver discussing with his mate how he was faking a back injury to claim incapacity benefit too.
The irony of all of this illegal dumping is that residents have already paid for disposal of a lot of household waste as part of their council tax. Unfortunately the exact service offered is up to each local council and varies across the country. For example our local council will collect everything from your old fridge-freezer to builders rubble. They used to collect limited items for free, but they now levy a charge. Other councils are more limited in what they will take. The real issue for householders now though is that in an effort to crack down on fly tipping some councils are going after people who hire disreputable firms, alongside the firms themselves. Take a look at this announcement from Swale Borough Council:
The Government have given local authorities more powers to continue their war on waste. Householders who use unlicensed waste carriers to remove their waste can now be prosecuted and fined up to Â£5,000, whether they do it knowingly or unknowingly.
Commercial fly tippers rely on householders and businesses not asking questions or checking registration details and therefore a duty of care is being placed on householders to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their waste is disposed of legitimately. Fly tippers can make huge sums of money by dumping waste, often in multiple lorry loads.
Essentially the onus is being passed back to the person responsible for the waste to ensure that the person they hire to dispose of it, disposes of it properly. Whilst the fly tipper may be long gone, the authorities will now come back to the source of the rubbish whether they knew it was going to be fly tipped or not. So if you have a lot of rubbish to get rid of it’s up to you to ensure that you get a reputable firm or risk a Â£5000 fine if they dump the rubbish illegally.