Taxpayers pick up �1m bill for flytipping in Norfolk
Taxpayers are being saddled with a �1m bill each year to clear up flytipping in Norfolk, it emerged today, as a string of organisations joined forces to urge the public to help combat the crime.
More than 3,330 tonnes of illegally dumped waste had to be removed from around the county last year and the problem is being tackled this week in a hard-hitting campaign which aims to stop a practice which creates eyesores and can be hazardous to health.
Norwich City Council is joining forces with Norfolk County Council, the Environment Agency and all the district and borough councils across the county to get the message across that flytipping will not be tolerated.
It is the first time that a flytipping awareness week has been rolled out across the county and people are being urged to report the culprits to their local councils.
The week of events, which starts on Friday when a flytipping collected in Norwich over just seven days will be piled in front of The Forum, has been put together by the Norfolk Waste Enforcement Group.
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Mark Whitmore, chairman of NWEG, said: 'Fly tipping not only creates an eyesore, but can also be hazardous to health and encourage pests and vermin, and generally cause people living near a site affected real distress.'
Across the county it is estimated that clearing and investigating fly tipping costs the tax payer almost �1 million pounds each year – not including the officer time taken up to investigate the crimes.
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Mr Whitmore said: 'This is money that could be spent on making improvements to other services, so the week is as much about prevention as it is about raising awareness.'
James Frost, director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Norfolk, said: 'The act of fly tipping is one of the greatest insults to the natural environment I can think of, especially in a rural county such as Norfolk. It's also a major blight on our towns and cities.
'Although most of the population would never consider doing it, we are still faced with the problem, which is why I welcome flytipping awareness week in Norfolk.
'CPRE's local and national Stop the Drop campaign, headed by Bill Bryson, is challenging the government to get serious about fly tipping and working with Norfolk's local authorities to understand the problem and take action.'
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: 'Fly tipping is a criminal activity that can cause serious pollution of the environment, can be a risk to human health and can harm wildlife and farm animals. It spoils our local neighbourhoods and quality of life.'
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said the authority deals with around 4,500 cases of flytipping each year and about a fifth of the �1m bill was eaten up by dealing with the problem in Norwich.
Penalties for flytipping can include an unlimited fine and even up to five years imprisonment and people are urged to make a note of dates, times and vehicles involved before contacting their local council if they spot someone dumping waste.
Anyone who discovers flytipped waste should not touch anything and report it to their local council as soon as possible.
The campaign has the backing of civic watchdog The Norwich Society. A spokesman for the group said; 'Flytipping degrades our city and costs us all money. It devalues us in terms of tourism and also in terms of how we view ourselves.
'It implies laziness as well as disrespect for the larger community. It does nobody any good.'
Ann Steward, cabinet member for sustainable development at Norfolk County Council, said: 'People are often surprised to learn that most flytipping incidents in Norfolk involve regular household waste and recycling that could have been either been collected by the local council or taken to the nearest recycling centre free of charge; rather than waste that is difficult or expensive to get rid of.
'Anyone that employs a third party to remove waste from their home must ensure that the service has a waste carriers licence and the waste is disposed of legally, or they could find themselves liable for the clean up costs if their waste is fly tipped.'
A recent example of flytipping came last month when asbestos waste was found dumped in villages in the Broadland area - in identical bags in Salhouse Road, Rackheath; Green Lane, Great Plumstead and Hare Road, Great Plumstead and by the side of the road at Witton Lane in Postwick.
• Do you know of a flytipping hotspot in or around Norwich? We want to hear your stories. Email your comments and pictures to reporter Dan Grimmer on firstname.lastname@example.org