West Lothian fly-tipping: Huge surge in dumping sees incidents in Whitburn triple in year

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A huge surge in fly-tipping has been reported in a West Lothian community, with concerns that the council is picking up the tab for rubbish cleared from private land.

The number of reports in and around the  town of Whitburn and neighbouring village of  Blackburn almost tripled over the final three months of 2023, compared with the same period in the year before.

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The council is only legally obliged to deal with fly-tipping on publicly owned land. Landowners have to pay to have waste uplifted from their own. 

Fly-tipping is a widespread problem in the Lothians. This was an example at Glencorse water treatment works in Midlothian - two vans drove up and, in broad daylight, dumped a large amount of material including plaster board, insulation and timber on the access road.Fly-tipping is a widespread problem in the Lothians. This was an example at Glencorse water treatment works in Midlothian - two vans drove up and, in broad daylight, dumped a large amount of material including plaster board, insulation and timber on the access road.
Fly-tipping is a widespread problem in the Lothians. This was an example at Glencorse water treatment works in Midlothian - two vans drove up and, in broad daylight, dumped a large amount of material including plaster board, insulation and timber on the access road. | Scottish Water

At a recent council committee meeting, deputy council leader and Whitburn Labour councillor Kirsteen Sullivan asked Eirwen Hopwood, a parks and woodland manager, “Do we know  how much is commercial?

The manager said she had no breakdown beyond the figures presented  but revealed that the number of reports had shot up to 95  in October-December from 37  in the last three months of 2022. “It’s a significant increase” she said.

The cost of uplift rose to £4,733  for  the  2023  third quarter, up from £2,503 in  the same time frame for 2022. 

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But overall, the total tonnage of fly-tipping lifted across West Lothian  barely changed  between the two years.- 66.34 tonnes in October to December 2023 compared with  66 tonnes in  the last three months of 2022.

Councillor Sullivan said: “The 2023 figure for the ward is dreadful. It would be interesting to know if some of it  is  related to dumping on private land. This is a bugbear of mine. There’s so much fly-tipping on private land and the council ends up picking up the costs."

She said there was a particular issue at Heartlands, a large development mostly of housing but with a small commercial centre on the western fringe of Whitburn.

"Council services  have been working closely not only with West Lothian Litter Pickers, but with some of the businesses out there to encourage them to put out more litter bins, but we have vast swathes of private land where there’s stuff being dumped all the time.”

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Councillor Mary Dickson highlighted the regular fly-tipping at a lay-by near Heartlands which was regularly tidied by volunteers- only to be dumped on again when cleared. She asked if the surge was related to the changes in opening times  or the booking system introduced at the recycling centres  late last year. ”I’m told there’s no correlation,” replied the manager.

The ward did have a high number of no show bookings at the local recycling centre in Blackburn, as revealed in a recent meeting of the Environment and Sustainability policy development an scrutiny panel. Fly-tipping is also an issue along the M8 corridor, which  cuts through  the northern edge of the town, and throughout the Lothians.

 

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