Fly-tipping costs West Lothian Council £200,000 a year

Illegally dumped rubbish is costing everyone in West Lothian, the council has said, as it revealed almost 77,000 tonnes of fly-tipped waste was collected between February and May this year.

Dealing with the dumping cost the council more than £50,000 to clear up – and the total cost for lifting fly-tipping across the county last year was around £200,000.

And while the latest figures showed numbers of incidents appeared to be falling, a council spokesman urged people to dispose of rubbish correctly and reminded residents that fly-tipping was a criminal offence which can lead to a fine of up to £40,000.

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However over the whole of last year the council issued just 22 fixed penalties and recovered fines totalling just £4,400.

Stock photo by John Devlin.

There were 337 reported fly-tippings between February 1 and April 30 – the same period in 2021 saw 878 reported incidents.

East Calder traditionally sees the most fly-tipping because it has a largely rural hinterland on the fringe of the Pentlands. This year’s figures show costs for the ward of £8,098 to collect the 54 reported fly-tippings. For the same period in 2021, the costs were £18,138, to tackle 229 incidents.

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In his report to the East Livingston and East Calder Local Area Committee, cleaner communities manager David Lees said: “We are unable to split costs over specific ward areas or from the other works they carry out, but can give the yearly cost for the NETs teams with an estimate of their time spent on fly tipping which we currently estimate as 45 per cent of their time. For 2021 the estimate was 80 per cent of their time.”

Even though figures are starting to look better a council spokesman was keen to reinforce the message that fly-tipping is unacceptable.

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A spokesperson for the council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We still estimate that 75-80 per cent of fly-tipping is of a commercial nature with businesses inappropriately dumping their waste. This contributes to removal costs for the council which totalled approximately £200,000 in 2021. Tradespeople and householders are both legally responsible for ensuring that they dispose of their waste items legally and safely, as dumping waste is illegal and can lead to a prosecution and a fine of up to £40,000.

“Businesses are legally required to take their waste to commercial recycling centres. We’d urge all residents to check that anyone doing work for them has a valid waste carrier license from SEPA that allows businesses to dispose of their waste appropriately.

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“The council will investigate any fly-tipping and if it is on council ground, we will remove it. If it is on private ground, we attempt to locate and inform the landowner.

“Fly tipping is anti-social and has a negative effect on how people feel about the area they live, not to mention it’s criminal, causes pollution and costs a fortune in public money to clean up. There can be no complacency when it comes to our responsibility to our environment and a no tolerance approach to fly-tipping and littering. Anyone who spots fly-tipping can report it to us at www.westlothian.gov.uk/flytipping, and if you have information on those responsible, you can contact us in confidence via 01506 280000 or www.westlothian.gov.uk/contactus.”