THE Westmorland Gazette today launches a campaign to tackle fly-tipping, which costs local tax payers thousands of pounds every year to clean-up.

Stop the Fly-Tippers aims to spread the message that irresponsible and illegal dumping of waste – household or industrial – is unacceptable and is a serious problem that needs clearing up.


Latest figures show that in South Lakeland there were 62 reported cases of fly-tipping between October and December 2016. In 2014/15, the last full year for which records are available, there were 380 logged incidents.

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) says the average cost of each fly-tipping call out, to cover the removal of waste and subsequent investigations, is £85.

In 2014/15, it cost local authorities in England nearly £50 million to clear up after the fly tippers. And Keep Britain Tidy announced last week that in some parts of the country fly-tipping had reached crisis levels.

Stop the Fly-Tippers aims to:

* Raise awareness of the problem of fly-tipping in South Lakeland.

* Highlight the environmental damage it causes.

* Urge readers to inform The Westmorland Gazette of incidents which will be passed on to SLDC

* Encourage readers to inform the authority of fly-tipping incidents they witness so that swift action can be taken

* Raise awareness of the correct protocol for disposing of waste.

In recent months incidents have included a living room suite and piles of rubbish left near Ashes Lane, Crook Road, Staveley; furniture including a chest of drawers and an armchair abandoned at Dr Manning’s Yard in Kendal; and five bin liners full of party waste dumped on Mealbank Road, near Kendal.

Dumping waste where it does not belong is not only illegal, but it can also have serious implications for the environment. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says: “Fly tipping is a significant blight on local environments; a source of pollution; a potential danger to public health and a hazard to wildlife.

“It also undermines legitimate waste businesses where unscrupulous operators undercut those operating within the law.”

In backing the Gazette’s campaign, Cllr David Fletcher, SLDC’s portfolio holder for environment, said fly-tipping stretched resources and painted the area in a bad light.

“Any raising of awareness on this issue is always welcome,” he said. “The more awareness of the negativity it causes and the extra costs concerned with it is going to be a benefit.

“Fly-tipping affects the way we portray our area which we are championing as a place to come and work, visit and enjoy.

“It is irresponsible and a waste of resources to have to go out and start dealing with illegal fly-tipping.

“A big chunk of South Lakeland is within the Lake District National Park and it doesn’t make for a very good advertisement for the national park or South Lakeland. It is entirely negative.”

Council enforcement officers regularly carry out stop-and-search operations with partner agencies, including the police, to target suspected fly-tippers and check waste licenses. Council officers have the power to seize vehicles where appropriate.

Although it is the responsibility of the landowner to clear fly-tipped waste on private land, enforcement officers would investigate the offence and offer advice and guidance about measures that could be taken to prevent further fly-tipping on the land.

Enforcement officers at SLDC investigate every case of fly tipping that is reported and, if appropriate and possible, action is taken.

This can range from warning letters being issued to prosecutions, potentially significant fines and even custodial sentences.

The maximum penalty for fly-tipping that can be imposed by the courts is a £50,000 fine and up to five years in prison for the most serious offences.

The good news is that cases appear to be on a downward trend with the figures for 2014/15 comparing favourably to the year before when there were 617 incidents reported to SLDC.

The bad news is there is still work to be done.

John Barwise, SLDC’s neighbourhood enforcement officer, said: “The authority’s tough stance on fly tipping and our zero tolerance approach is being reflected in the falling numbers of incidents being reported.

“The message seems to be getting through that we take a strong line on fly-tipping in South Lakeland.

“We work pro-actively to get the message across that we won’t tolerate fly-tipping and we are very thorough and leave no stone unturned in our investigations.

“We will get in there with our gloves on to search through the fly-tipped waste to find evidence to trace the person responsible.’’

Mr Barwise warned that fly-tippers risked not only a possible prosecution but also the wider reaching consequences of a conviction, such as being left with a criminal record and even losing their employment.

Andrew Thomas, editor of The Westmorland Gazette, said: “We are fortunate to live in a stunning part of the country and it is shocking that people are prepared to do anything to compromise the beauty of our location.

“We hope that Stop the Fly-Tippers will help to eradicate this scourge of an area we should be doing our upmost to protect.

“I would urge our readers to get in touch with SLDC or the Gazette if they can provide any information which helps to track down fly-tippers and to tackle this issue head on.”