My mind dwells happily on the past whenever I motor over to my beloved Oxfordshire. Days before fly tipping and Oxfordshire became synonymous. Times before Covid tiptoed into our lives, and then invaded almost every aspect of them.
Not that illegal waste dumping is limited to Oxon and its magnificent City of Spires. I have encountered it in places as far apart as Beckenham and Mitcham. Our local councils have teeth, but their prosecution seems selective if at all.
Dumping Household Waste Reaches Crisis Point
Believe it or not, but the average UK resident generates over one thousand pounds weight of waste annually. Have we become so lazy, even wasteful perhaps in how much we allow to spoil, or leave on our plates. People live off garbage on tips in many other parts of the world.
English councils have encouraged a throw-away society, by obligingly emptying our wheelie bins, and taking away larger items from pavements. Yet despite this convenience, the highways and byways of Oxfordshire increasingly feature illegal dumping. I decided to find out why fly tipping and Oxfordshire appear in headlines so often.
Stern Response to Fly Tipping by Oxfordshire Council
Oxfordshire County Council is all-guns-blazing according to its website. It opens with a salvo at worst offenders’ dumped tires, construction rubble, fridges, freezers, and garden waste. Those guilty of an offence face prosecution, it warns. And that includes people who innocently hire unscrupulous contractors who break the law.
Report Illegal Household Waste and Other Rubbish Now
The County Council manifestly can’t be everywhere at the same time. Therefore they have decided to rely on residents to report fly tipping in Oxfordshire at any of these town council offices:
However, I would be doing you a disservice if I did not add advice out of an abundance of caution. Do not confront dumpers or allow them to see you taking photographs. And no wonder with illegal dumping in Oxfordshire carrying a fine of up to £50,000, and 12 months imprisonment from a local court.
Why Then Does Fly Tipping Continue in Oxfordshire?
What’s happening here seems pretty typical of the rest of the UK. Sheehan Groundworks and Engineering reports almost one million dumping incidents recorded per year. Household waste continues to be the biggest culprit, but I wonder how many offenders were actually prosecuted?
However, the company goes on to warn the 2022 figures could be even worse, with so many local authority recycling centres closed at various stages during COVID-19 restrictions. They rightly make the point the natural environment is also under strain, because people who fly tip often do it in places where they think they will not be caught.
‘Often rivers, lakes, fields and ditches bear the brunt of fly tipping,’ they point out. ‘This has a huge impact on wildlife. Dumped items in rivers and lakes for example can negatively impact on the diet of fish, ducks, birds and other species. Dumped waste can also leach toxic chemicals into the environment. This poisons the natural habitat for plants and animals.
Oxford Mail published a report suggesting incidents of fly tipping in Oxfordshire ‘rose sharply to 1,188 in 2020/2021 up from 682 in 2019-20’. Debris was commonest on roadways, with green waste, white goods, tyres, construction material and black bin bags accumulating in alleyways.
How Criminals Who Dump Often Get Away With It
However, the larger majority of incidents were on private land outside local council remit. Private land owners then are saddled with cleaning the mess while the criminals get away free. CLA South East regional director Tim Bamford is appalled. ‘These figures do not tell the full story of this disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside,’ he says.
‘Local authorities tend not to get involved with clearing incidences of fly-tipped waste from private land,’ he continues. ‘Leaving the landowner to clean up and foot what is often an extortionate bill. The government figures do not reflect the true scale of the crime, because increasing reports of fly-tipping on private rural land are not included.’
I am Jeffrey Avery, founder and MD of Avery Associates in Mitcham, London. We offer a responsible house clearance service in the south of England and Wales. I am also a professional valuer of repute. You may never know what is in the garden shed, or at the back of the cellar until someone knowledgeable has a good look.