by Alan Quick
FLY-TIPPERS were in action at the entrance to Creedy Park, Sandford, near Crediton, during the night of Friday, August 4 or early hours of Saturday, August 5.
A variety of items was thrown into the verge, which is near the entrance to Sandford Cricket Club.
In April this year, Mel Stride, the MP for Central Devon, welcomed several measures being introduced by the Government as part of a new Litter Strategy to tackle fly-tipping and general littering.
These include getting offenders on community sentences, including people caught fly-tipping, to help councils to clear up litter and fly-tipped waste, fines of up to £150 for individuals caught littering and better distribution of public litter bins to make it easier for people to disperse of their rubbish.
Mr Stride said: “Three local authorities in my constituency - Mid Devon, West Devon and Teignbridge - spend between £319,000 and £1,340,000 a year on street cleansing, with a lot of this being spent dealing with litter.
“We will never be able to stop every thoughtless individual who litters without any regard for our environment, but by providing councils with more assistance and making it easier for people to discard their waste, we can help keep our communities tidy and protect local wildlife for whom certain types of litter can actually be quite dangerous.”
Mr Stride also welcomed the creation of a new expert group to look at further ways of cutting the worst kinds of litter, including plastic bottles and drinks containers, cigarette ends and fast food packaging. The group’s first task will be to consider evidence from schemes that reward the return of plastic bottles and drinks containers.
MORE EFFORT NEEDED TO FIGHT RURAL CRIME
In March, the South West NFU called for police forces to devote more resources to combatting rural crime, after a survey revealed that almost 20 per cent of members who responded had difficulty reporting a crime and that when they did, insufficient action was taken.
The crime survey was completed by 200 members and showed that fly-tipping, trespass, poaching and theft are the four commonest offences that farmers have to deal with.
It also revealed that the average cost to a farmer of each crime reported was nearly £3,000, with the total cost of the crimes covered by the survey coming to just under £247,000.
This included the costs of the time spent dealing with crime, replacing equipment and making good any damage.
Criminal damage, arson and burglary were also commonly reported, along with incidents of gates being left open, livestock worrying and fly-grazing.
In terms of the police response to crime, 29 per cent of farmers said officers had taken sufficient action, though 21 per cent felt they had not – with more than half the respondents saying they felt that insufficient resources were dedicated to fighting rural crime in their county.
Nearly a quarter of those who responded to the survey said they had not bothered reporting incidents of crime at all.
South West NFU regional director, Melanie Squires, said: “I know that this is one of the most frustrating issues faced by farmers, but it is very important that everyone who experiences a crime reports it, so police forces have an accurate record of how much crime is taking place and whereabouts it is.
"This will help demonstrate the scale of the problem and will support us when it comes to arguing for more police resources to be allocated to rural areas.”
The results of the survey echo the findings of leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, which revealed that rural crime cost the South West £6.1 million in 2015, with thieves commonly targeting tools from farms and businesses, quad bikes (ATVs) and garden equipment.
Almost half the respondents to the South West NFU survey said their experience of crime had prompted them to increase security measures, with many installing CCTV and making sure gates and vehicles were always locked, even though this had a cost in that it meant carrying out tasks around the farm often took longer.
The results of the survey will be used to inform NFU discussions with the region’s chief constables and police and crime commissioners in the coming months.
900,000 FLY-TIPPING INCIDENT EVERY 12 MONTHS
Councils are, however, now using new powers to crush vehicles belonging to fly-tippers who illegally dump rubbish in the countryside.
Local authorities are also calling for the closure of a legal loophole which means officers must give some fly-tippers seven days written warning before inspecting them.
The zero-tolerance nationwide crackdown comes as fly-tippers are becoming increasingly brazen with some operators even dumping next to "no fly-tipping" signs.
There are believed to be some 900,000 fly-tipping incidents every 12 months.
Small-scale dumping often involves items such old pieces of broken furniture, old televisions and mattresses.
But many fly-tipping incidents see much larger loads of waste being dumped.
Latest figures show the number of recorded fly-tipping incidents rose by almost six per cent for 2014/15 compared with 2013/14, while the clear-up costs increased by 11 per cent.
Councils are carrying out more than half-a-million enforcement actions every year, costing local taxpayers almost £18 million.
Commercial waste is the second largest waste type, accounting for almost nine per cent of fly-tipping incidents in England in 2014/15.
There was an 18 per cent increase in commercial waste incidents from 65,000 in 2013/14 to 77,000 in 2014/15, according to the latest figures.
The Local Government Association has long called for the system for tackling unscrupulous fly-tippers to be overhauled.
LGA environment spokesman councillor Martin Tett said: "Councils are taking a zero-tolerance approach to fly-tipping.
"This means using every power at their disposal – including seizing and destroying vehicles used by the dumpers.
"At a time when councils face difficult choices about services in light of reducing budgets, they are having to spend a vast amount each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping.
"This is money that would be better spent on vital services such as filling potholes and caring for the elderly. Litter and fly-tipping is environmental vandalism."
The LGA successfully campaigned for councils to be able to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices by council enforcement officers to help tackle small-scale fly-tipping.
These new powers, which were introduced in May, allow councils to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £400 for fly-tippers who make residents’ lives hell and cost taxpayers millions of pounds.
Councils are reporting a significant rise in the so-called "man with van" phenomenon.
This involves cold callers offering to "dispose" of unwanted household goods like fridges, mattresses, and furniture for cash, which are then fly-tipped.
Households are being warned by councils to only use reputable operators who can prove they dispose of rubbish responsibly. Cash-in-hand is usually a sign they aren’t.
Residents and businesses play a key role in helping keep streets clean by reporting fly-tips. Many councils now offer smartphone apps to make this easier.
Businesses are required by law to dispose of waste responsibly. Councils can advise on what they need to do, and how to find a reputable waste removal company.
Councillor Tett said: "The government has responded to our call for councils to be able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for small scale fly-tipping – and this is a big step in the right direction.
"Councils also need a faster and more effective legal system which means fly-tippers are given hard-hitting fines for more serious offences.
"Local authorities should also be able to recoup all prosecution costs, rather than be left out of pocket."
KEEP CREDITON CLEAN
Crediton Town Council reports that during the last 12 months it has received increased complaints about litter, dog fouling and flyposting.
It has launched a Keep Crediton Clean campaign which covers all these aspects.
A leaflet with advice and information is available from the Crediton Town Council offices in Market Street, Crediton. The Town Council office is open each day from 10am to 2pm.
The leaflet is also available from other outlets including the “Crediton Courier” office at 102 High Street, Crediton.
WHERE YOU CAN GET HELP
Mid Devon District Council recently introduced a rapid response team to help with the fly-tipping and littering problem across Mid Devon.
MDDC’s Litter Buster Team aim to improve the look of the district by clearing litter and fly-tipped items which give a poor impression to visitors and are harmful to the wildlife and environment.
After obtaining witness statements, the team has issued some littering fines to people who drop litter and motorists who are caught dropping litter.
Cllr Karl Busch, Cabinet Member for the Environment at MDDC, said: “Litter is something that affects us all and is needless.
“It’s fantastic that our Litter Buster Team will be tackling this blight on the beautiful landscape.
“Taking a more proactive approach to dealing with litter both through the removal and prevention is an important step towards improving Mid Devon for all residents and visitors and working towards a cleaner District.”
If members of the public wish to report fly-tipping they have spotted or witness littering, this can be reported to Mid Devon District Council on telephone 01884 255255 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org .