West Lothian Council has reported a significant increase in the amount of commercial waste being fly-tipped in the area.
Over the past five years, there has been an 85 per cent increase in the number of fly-tipping enquiries dealt with by the local authority.
In 2019, the council handled 2089 enquiries relating to fly-tipping.
The council believes the main reason for the increase is due to commercial operators avoiding their legal responsibilities to dispose of their waste – which costs them money.
For businesses, the cost of disposing waste in landfill sites has risen consistently over recent years, with the Scottish Government continually increasing the landfill tax rate (now £92.61 per tonne) in an attempt to encourage businesses to recycle more of their waste.
However, some businesses try to cut costs by not having a waste carriers licence with waste often ending up being illegally dumped.
Data shows that 80 per cent of fly tipping locally is caused by commercial businesses/tradespeople dumping materials such as large quantities of garden waste, old kitchens and bathrooms, building materials and items such as old car tyres.
The council introduced two Neighbourhood Environmental Teams in April 2019 to improve response times to reactive incidents such as fly-tipping.
And since the introduction of the NETs Teams, the council has removed 107 tonnes of fly-tipping waste at a total cost of almost £100,000.
Each year the council spends over £2.5 million removing litter and fly-tipping from West Lothian’s streets.
Andy Johnston, service manager in the council’s NETs, Land and Countryside Services said: “A common misconception is that fly-tipping is caused by the introduction of slim bins, bulky uplift charges or not enough recycling centres, and that is not correct.
“The vast majority of fly-tipping is materials that would never be placed into a household bin, picked up via a bulky uplift or taken to a council run recycling centre. Data highlights that large increases in fly-tipping were occurring long before recycling centres opening hours were reduced or the introduction of bulky uplift charges, for example.
“Fly-tipping isn’t the fault of the council or police. It’s caused by people who know they are in the wrong and make the wrong choices. Fly-tipping is illegal and we will step up our efforts to catch those responsible. However we can’t do it on our own and we need residents and tradespeople to work with us.”
To help reduce incidents of illegal fly-tipping, householders are now being encouraged to check that their tradespeople have a valid waste carriers licence before employing them – otherwise they too could end up being fined as both tradespeople and householders are legally responsible for ensuring that they dispose of their waste items legally and safety.
Executive councillor for the environment, Tom Conn said: “At all times, residents should ask themselves where their waste is going to end up? If there’s no waste carriers licence then the chances are that their old carpet, bathroom suite of garden waste could be dumped by the side of a road or in a local park. It is unsightly, dangerous and it costs the council to uplift it. That’s diverting resources and money away from other local services. A tradesperson without a permit might be able to offer a householder a slightly cheaper rate for work, but is a small saving worth damaging your local community, a £200 fine or court action?”
He added: “The Scottish Government aims to make Scotland a zero waste society and has extremely ambitious targets around minimising our demand on primary resources such as landfill and maximizing the reuse and recycling of items.
“To meet those targets councils will continually making changes to waste collection services in an effort to increasing recycling and decrease waste that is diverted to landfill. More and more changes will have to be put in place as we work towards the national target of less than 5% of waste going to landfill by 2025. “The cost of disposing of waste in landfill is increasing for both councils and businesses and that is unlikely to change.
“However increasing costs is not an excuse to illegally fly-tip. There is no excuse.”
You can report fly-tipping via the council’s website or call 01506 280000.