THE team tasked with clearing up illegally dumped waste say they rely on the public to be their 'eyes and ears' when it comes to stopping the fly-tippers.

"Members of the public are quite forthcoming if they do see something,"said Sue Scott, one of four members of South Lakeland District Council's neighbourhood enforcement team.

"We often need witness statements and the majority are quite helpful with us.

"We rely on the public to be our eyes and ears because we can't be everywhere."


The other members of the team are John Barwise, Mark Harris and Neil Thomson who have thrown their weight behind the Gazette's Stop the Fly-Tippers campaign that was launched last week. It aims to raise awareness of the issue in South Lakeland; highlight the environmental damage it causes; urge readers to inform the Gazette and SLDC of fly-tipping incidents; and raise awareness of the correct ways of disposing of waste.

The neighbourhood enforcement team respond to incidents, co-ordinate clear-ups, collate evidence for prosecutions and perhaps most importantly, do their bit to educate people about the consequences of fly-tipping.

They consider that getting over the correct waste disposal protocol is the most important message they need to spread. Mr Barwise points out that the number one priority in tackling illegal dumping is getting people to ensure that the traders employed to dispose of rubbish are registered waste carriers.

"A trader could quote a price for something and say: 'I'll get rid of that for you but it will cost me £100'," he said. "But if he can get rid of it for free then it's all profit. What people don't realise is it is the onus of the householder to check.

"If they can't prove it, don't use them. If it's found it's your waste and it can be traced back to you as the householder then you can be liable for prosecution.

"If we could get that one simple message out it would be a significant step in the right direction and stop rogue traders from fly-tipping."

Mr Barwise added that prosecutions in fly-tipping incidents are relatively rare with it often difficult to pin-point the culprits. But where possible action is taken against perpetrators who face 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.

Mr Barwise said: "If it's cut and dried and witnessed it makes it much easier to prosecute. But it's a case of investigating and if sufficient evidence can be found then action will be taken.

"But a lot of people will go to extreme lengths to hide the fact it's them doing it and they're the main problem – they're the ones setting out with intent.

"They don't think they'll get caught and they don't fully appreciate the consequences. If you are caught, it's a criminal record and that will affect you going for jobs."