Scotland must get tough on morons who fly-tip rubbish – Steve Cardownie

Last week I wrote about the health benefits that can be derived from the simple task of taking a daily walk and that I try to do so for at least one hour every day.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 4:55 am
The Scottish government is holding a consultation into how to deal with fly-tipping and littering (Picture: David Cheskin/PA)
The Scottish government is holding a consultation into how to deal with fly-tipping and littering (Picture: David Cheskin/PA)

This has led me to walk through different parts of the city and its environs, which has proved to be a worthwhile exercise (excuse the pun).

Whilst appreciating the sights that nature provides as well as viewing the fantastic architecture on our doorstep, I am also regularly confronted with the depressing evidence of fly-tipping.

I have observed that this disgraceful practice is not confined to particular areas such as housing schemes but is evident throughout the city.

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From The New Town to Gorgie, from Leith to Silverknowes, nowhere is safe from the morons who sneak about, often in the dead of night, dumping their unwanted goods on the Capital’s streets or open ground.

Now, in a renewed effort to tackle this anti-social problem, the Scottish Government has embarked upon a consultation exercise about a new “litter and fly-tipping strategy for Scotland” which Edinburgh City Council has responded to and which will be discussed at tomorrow’s transport and environment committee.

The council’s main report opens with the following paragraph which sets out the nub of the problem: “Litter and fly-tipping is a blight on communities and the environment which reduces quality of life and enjoyment of local spaces and has wider direct and indirect environmental consequences, such as the escape of plastics into water courses.”

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Recent information has come to light which shows that Scottish local councils received 134,394 reports of fly-tipping in the last two years, but that only 34 were referred to the procurator fiscal for potential criminal proceedings.

Glasgow topped the negative league table with 48,539 complaints, followed in second place by Edinburgh with 25,717, with only 1,879 fixed penalty notices being issued across Scotland since September 2019.

So, the problem is countrywide but so far it would appear that local authorities are either unable or unwilling to take the appropriate action that would not only punish the perpetrators but deter others from considering following in their footsteps.

The Scottish government’s website states that “every year, 250 million easily visible items are dropped as litter and 26,000 tonnes of material is fly-tipped. According to 2013 Zero Waste Scotland research, at least £53 million of public money is spent cleaning this up every year.”

Contained within its response to the Scottish government, Edinburgh Council supports the raising of fixed penalty notice fines. While that would help, it would seem from the evidence that either local authorities need more resources to tackle the problem or that they need a swift kick up the proverbial to encourage them to pursue offenders more vigorously.

Littering and fly-tipping are moronic activities, which are depressingly now more prevalent than ever and which must be tackled head-on but rigorous enforcement, coupled with other initiatives, may, hopefully, contribute to finding a solution to this problem. If not, it will continue to impact on us all. The Scottish government’s consultation exercise runs until March 31.

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