We are all impacted and shaped by our local environment, for better or worse – and whilst South Leeds definitely has its charms and beauty, our neighbourhoods are also blighted by littering and fly-tipping.
Quite apart from the thousands of daily bits of litter dropped, every day sadly sees fly tipping into the local area: contractors, landlords, residents and others choosing to dump their waste onto our doorsteps. Sometimes it is hazardous, just last month for example, a large quantity of asbestos was dropped on the banks of Throstle Carr Beck in Middleton. It is always unsightly and it brings our community down, it brings us all down. What’s the problem, and what can we do?
Many residents sense that fly tipping is on the increase, and – sure enough – the trend is upwards: from 2,977 incidents in Leeds in 2012-13, to 26,079 in 2019-20. This last month saw the Conservatives arguing within the City Council that the rise in fly tipping was due to the 2018 introduction of charges at Council tips, and for collections of bulky waste.
However, others such as the Council’s environmental managers stress that fly tipping is increasing across the UK, and that Leeds is simply no exception. Statistics bear that out, with nearly one million reported incidents of fly tipping nationwide last year.
Officials also stress that householders can still drop most waste at the Household Waste and Recycling sites for free – and that bulky waste collections are free for those most in need and in receipt of Council Tax Reduction.
Meanwhile, easy solutions are not obvious. The authorities always look for opportunities to prosecute, and fines can be up to £50,000. But getting the information and proof to successfully identify the culprits, and to prosecute them, is far from easy.
CCTV is sometimes trumpeted as a solution. Maidstone in Kent has recently received considerable profile for their automated ‘LitterCams’, but cameras can’t go everywhere. Residents on the other hand are everywhere.
If you see fly tipping and especially if you see the people responsible, please report it to the Council here: www.leeds.gov.uk/antisocial-behaviour-and-crime/report-fly-tipping. Photos, vehicle registrations and locations are all important pieces of information in the fight against fly tipping.
Indeed, with Council resources stretched ever more thinly, it’s time for all of us to play our part resolving this problem facing our community. As well as gathering any information possible on fly tippers, we ask all readers to challenge those they know who might be carrying out fly tipping.
Please also be sure that you don’t inadvertently add to the problem. A ‘man with a van’ may be the solution to getting rid of rubbish from your house, but please check they are properly licenced and are not just going to fly tip it to avoid the cost of disposing of it properly.
Check out our post How to dispose of unwanted items to find details of how you can dispose of your unwanted ‘rubbish’ in a safe, legal and maybe even creative way.
And meanwhile, a growing number of people are stepping up to help pick litter in their neighbourhood right now. This is not the whole solution: we need to work to tackle the issue at source. But it’s a positive way we can all engage, and make a difference in our community. As we emerge from lockdown, taking part in events will become easier. For more information, and support, check out South Leeds Litter Picks and Litter Free Leeds on Facebook.
Finally, we also want to hear from you. What practical ideas have you got for tackling waste in our communities? How could we respond more creatively?