Reports of fly-tipping in Edinburgh more than TRIPLE in last six years
SHOCKING figures reveal reports of rubbish dumped in the Capital by fly-tippers have more than tripled in six years.
And the blight has also exploded across the Lothians with commercial and household waste mostly to blame.
Councils have launched campaigns to tackle the spectre and vowed to get tough with the tippers.
“These figures are frankly shocking and show the city has a big problem with fly-tipping and dumping, which seems to be getting worse,” said Cllr Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith.
“It’s essential the council takes firm action to tackle this, both by ensuring the dumped items are cleaned up promptly but also by increasing the number of environment wardens to catch culprits in the act, issue fines and act as a deterrent to future dumping.
“Greens have pushed for more resources for environment wardens, to tackle precisely this type of problem.
“Given the high number of furniture items and other household waste in these figures, perhaps the council also needs to review whether its approach to bulky uplifts is contributing to the problem.
“Greens have long advocated free bulky uplifts for householders, in order to reduce the likelihood of items being dumped.”
Under Freedom of Information laws, the Evening News obtained numbers of fly-tipping incidents reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
They showed reports in Edinburgh had risen from 44 in 2013 to 134 in 2018 - the equivalent to one every three days.
Further analysis of waste dumped between August 2017 and December 2018 revealed furniture and other household rubbish and construction materials to be the most common.
Waste was typically dumped in van load sizes during the 18-month period though the Capital also saw lorry loads of rubbish left.
In October last year, new four-day waste collection rotas were rolled out alongside paid-for a garden waste service.
There were more than 8,000 complaints from residents in five weeks as rubbish piled-up - but the council denied the collection changes are responsible for more fly-tipping.
The Evening News reported last month how feckless fly-tippers trashed a popular walk by dumping mounds of rubbish at a beauty spot.
Land at the former farm off Turnhouse Road was littered with paint cans, concrete slabs and tyres.
Vandals are then thought to have turned up and splashed the paint over walls of a derelict cottage on the site.
Dogwalker Lesley Drysdale, 60, said: “Sadly Meadowfield Farm is slowly being destroyed by fly-tippers.
“Unfortunately since the local refuse dump was closed, this is an everyday occurrence. It is absolutely shocking and hazardous to wildlife.”
In West Lothian, cases reported to SEPA rose from 20 in 2013 to 74 in 2018 - with household furniture, black bags and gardening among the most common waste in the most recent 18 months.
Householders are warned to check tradespeople have a valid waste carriers licence before employing them – otherwise they could end up being fined themselves.
West Lothian service manager Andy Johnston said: “Both residents and businesses are legally responsible for disposing of waste legally and safely.”
The council is uploading photos of fly-tipping on social media in a bid to shame those responsible.
Mr Johnston added: ““Fly-tipping isn’t the fault of the council or police. It’s caused by people who know they are in the wrong and make the wrong choices.”
In East Lothian, the numbers of reports to SEPA rose from 11 in 2013 to 29 in 2018 - with household furniture and black bags, but also construction waste mostly responsible in the most recent 18 months.
Enforcement officers for the council are working with police to identify incidents of fly tipping and, where possible, take legal action against the dumpers.
An East Lothian spokeswoman said: “There is no excuse to dump commercial or household rubbish in country areas as there are a number of sites available for the safe disposal of materials.
“Unfortunately, some individuals act in an irresponsible manner and dump debris that is not only unsightly but can also pose health concerns to both wildlife and livestock.”
After a rise in cases, the authority is also working with SEPA on an innovative ‘Trusted Waste Carrier’ scheme to promote vetted local companies that will dispose of waste responsibly.
In Midlothian, reports rose from 42 in 2013 to 92 in 2018 - with furniture, commercial and construction waste mostly found in the 18 months up to December.
A spokesman for the council pointed to a doubling since last year of people from outwith Midlothian dumping rubbish in the area.
“We want to warn people we are pursuing all reported cases with a view of finding and fining those responsible," added the spokesman.
"This applies equally even if you gave your items for someone else to dispose of, if they’ve done so illegally, you too will be held accountable."
Fly-tippers can face a fixed penalty notice of £200 or be referred to the Procurator Fiscal if they fail to pay-up.
Anyone convicted can be locked up for up to six months and a fine of up to £40,000. In the most serious cases, the prison sentence can be up to five years.
Residents in Midlothian with household waste can dispose of it for free at recycling centres at Stobhill and Penicuik or book a chargeable bulky uplift.
A spokesman for SEPA said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment.
“Fly-tipping is not a victimless crime and clearing it up costs Scottish local authorities more than £2.5 million each year.
“It also undermines legitimate waste businesses, where illegal operators undercut those operating within the law.
“Everyone can help end the selfish, criminal flytipping behaviours that blight our communities.
“We all have a legal responsibility to ensure that we produce, store, transport and dispose of our waste without harming the environment, which means we need to ensure that only licenced professionals handle our waste.”
An online register of licenced waste carriers and brokers is maintained by SEPA enabling the public or businesses to check and ensure that contractors are sufficiently compliant.
The SEPA spokesman added: “We will continue to work with our partners and local communities to raise awareness of fly-tipping and help tackle the issue.”
Anyone wishing to report fly-tipping can call the Dumb Dumpers Stopline on 0845 2 30 40 90 or by completing a form at www.dumbdumpers.org.
ENFORCEMENT officers on councils investigate fly-tipping cases once reported to SEPA.
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “Last year we took a stand and we decided it was time to get tough on fly tippers.
“Thanks to residents and businesses across the city joining forces with the Council’s Our Edinburgh campaign to crack down on fraudulent trade waste and fly tipping, we’ve seen a rise in the number of problems being reported to us.
“The good news? Having the means and encouragement to report issues is helping our enforcement officers to act quickly to attend to waste issues to keep Edinburgh looking its best.
“And just because more issues are being reported, does not necessarily mean the problem is getting worse.
“The bad news? It shouldn’t have to get to this. People shouldn’t have to spend their time picking up after irresponsible fly tippers.
“Not only is it costly and a blight on the city, but fly tipping can often be dangerous to communities and wildlife – our enforcers have come across hazardous chemicals and asbestos materials, much of it from trade and commercial, which have been dumped illegally.
“We all have a responsibility and a duty to dispose of our waste responsibly.
“The Council has three Household Waste Recycling Centres across the city to allow people to dispose of large items of household waste and we operate a special uplift service that allows residents to dispose of furniture legally, at a low cost.
“Fly tipping is illegal. The Our Edinburgh campaign has raised awareness and now I think we’re seeing a sea change in attitudes. People are really responding to the campaign, ringing in, emailing and tweeting us to help us tackle problems and to shame fly tippers.
“This is the city saying we’re not going to tolerate it, because our Edinburgh deserves better.”