Fraying stained mattresses, black bin bag mountains, manky carpet tiles and smashed up kitchen cupboards – welcome to rural East Anglia.

Drive through the Norfolk and Suffolk countryside and you’re bound to find at least one eyesore rubbish pile dumped in laybys, fields and woods. 

Once the odd sofa or fridge lurked by the roadside left by an idle householder.

Now discarded junk piles are industrial sized and hazardous, including asbestos and animal carcases, risking people and wildlife’s safety and health.

About 2,500 fly tipping incident happen every day.

Dumping debris and refuse on public and private land is an epidemic and a crime against the environment.

Fly-tipping is also an organised crime like drug dealing. Gangs are charging businesses to offload their rubbish posing as licenced disposers, then chucking it out of the back of their vans in beauty spots.

Tonnes of it. Between 2022 and 2023 local councils dealt with 1.08million fly tipping incidents – and only incidents on public land are included in these figures by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Private land incidents are separate.

A farmer and villagers sick of rubbish blighting their Warwickshire village this week turned vigilantes, cornering two men who turned up in two vans and unloaded building waste, pipes, and black bin bags on to private farmland.

The farmer and his son chased the offenders, stopping them with the help of a gamekeeper and his brother, making them clear up while the police waited to detain them under the Environment Act.

The farmer said this was happening at least once a week with tyres, drug paraphernalia, and general waste piled by the road.

No one suggests chasing and cornering criminals is wise, but confidence in the police responding isn’t great and sometimes patience wears so thin people want to take action to protect their environment.

Removing fly-tipping costs the UK hundreds of millions of pounds a year – money that could be spent on other services. 

Current deterrents feel useless - though Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne’ solution to the problem in his New Forest constituency is clearly extreme and inappropriate - “garrotted with their own intestines,” he told the House of Commons last week, his frustration with toothless deterrents undersatandable.

If people realised that clearing up these incidents add to their council tax bills - so they are paying – they might care just a little bit more.

Even using terminology “fly-tipping” doesn’t make the crime sound serious. 

It is an anti-social crime - a deliberate targeted vandalism of naturally beautiful areas that poses risks to humans, animals and habitats. An intentional wrecking of the environment.

Anyone who goes out to destroy something beautiful and cherished merits a punishment that fits the crime.

Rogue operators making big money by causing misery with a continual disregard for communities the environment and taxpayers need the book throwing at them.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency are struggling to keep on top of the criminal elements of waste management.

In Norwich this week, a fly tipping hotspot was targeted twice in four days with DIY waste, household rubbish and what looked like two large construction cables found by the roadside at Bowthorpe, near Norwich.

Public places across Norfolk are blighted like this more than 10,000 times in a year, figures by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs revealed last week.
But only 68 £400 fixed penalty notices and 512 warnings were issued.

These figures don’t include the thousands of incidents that happen on private land.
Norwich is Norfolk’s fly-tipping capital with incidents bucking the national trend of a slight dip and increasing from 4,755 to 4,805, to 4,331 happening on council-owned land.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk increased too. 

An agricultural region, our farmers are bearing the brunt and the cost. 

Cath Crowther, east director of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses, said two-thirds of all farmers and landowners had been victims.

On top of this, Norfolk County Council is considering shutting its 19 recycling centres on Wednesday ands and introduction a booking system to save the council £200,000 a year as part of a £52m cuts and savings package.

The bookings system will save £200,000 a year alone. 

We’re in a right mess – literally.

In London, councils are issuing videos warning about patrols watching for any illegally dumped waste threatening full investigations and fines for offenders.

Turning a blind eye, or angrily harumphing when passing isn’t enough. 

We must all be alert, and demand our politicians make penalties that fit the crime.

DJ's death a lesson for employers

Friend of radio genius Steve Wright, who died suddenly this week aged just 69, say he died of a broken heart after being axed from his BBC Radio 2 afternoon show.

They insist how he was dumped had really taken its toll.

A nudge to employers who make seismic changes in the workforce without thinking through how their ‘business decisions’ will affect the individual ad acting accordingly.

Making numbers and names work on a spreadsheet doesn’t necessarily translate to the humans behind those numbers.

Difficult decisions must be made, but it is how they are communicated, and how people are treated by those making them, that marks good and caring leadership.