by Mo Metcalf Fisher

With a new lockdown in place, the country is scrambling to establish what the latest restrictions will mean for our daily lives.

Among a number of areas of rural life that will be impacted, the Countryside Alliance is monitoring waste disposal closely. This is because restrictions to waste disposal centres, recycling centres and tips can have an adverse effect on the local community as a result of fly-tipping.

Having a clear-out during previous lockdowns has seen fly-tipping increase across the country as many of us are taking the opportunity to spring clean our homes and gardens. This is a natural response to spending more time at home but how many of us are thinking about what to do with our waste afterwards? The answer is not many, because we saw reports of 80% rise in fly-tipping in certain areas during the first lockdown and the impact this is having on our communities and countryside is unacceptable.

Without a question, fly-tipping is a blight to the countryside and needs to be treated as a serious crime. Sadly, it is also one of the few crimes in which the victim pays. The victim, more often than not farmers, must pay to remove the waste, or risk being fined for storing the illegally dumped waste on their land.

Although it is early days for this latest lockdown, it does appear from preliminary observation that many local authorities are reporting that their waste disposal facilities will remain open; albeit with restrictions in place.

In Warrington for example, the Borough Council has said that while tips will remain open, visits must only be ‘essential’. This means that if waste cannot safely be stored at home, an individual can visit the tip to dispose of waste.

Alternatively, in Warwickshire, tips will remain open but the public are requested to book a time slot online prior to making the journey.

We urge the public to check well in advance before planning to carry out any household activity that will likely generate abnormal levels of waste. Where possible, please ensure you can store this waste safely at home. Should you require a tip, please do check to see what restrictions are in place. In some cases, visits should only be carried out by one person at a time.

If you are having a clear out and do not have access to a tip, please:

Keep your waste at home until you are able to dispose of it legally; or

Use a registered waste carrier such as Any Junk; and

Remember, you can be prosecuted for fly-tipping.

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance said: “ It was clear in the first lockdown that a consequence of tip and recycling centre closures was an increase in fly-tipping in many areas. Rightly, there is a general agreement that waste disposal centres are an essential facility and it is reassuring that many are already reporting that they will remain open. Fly-tipping is a disgraceful, selfish act and there can be no excuses for it; whether you are carrying it out personally, or paying someone else to do it irrespective of whether you knew it was being done.

She added: "Local authorities are no doubt under pressure to contain the spread of the virus, but ease of access to tips for the public is essential in the interest of health and safety. With sufficient measures put in place, there should be no excuse for tip or recycling centre closures during this lockdown”.

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