Thousands of fly-tips in Welwyn Hatfield, no prosecutions

THOUSANDS of fly-tips have had to be cleared by Welwyn Hatfield Council in the space of a year, but NO-ONE has been successfully prosecuted, new figures have revealed.

The council’s waste contractor Serco cleared 3,048 illegal dumps and according to a new report, �140,712 of taxpayers’ cash was spent taking out enforcement action against litterbugs.

The figures, obtained by the Countryside Alliance under the Freedom of Information Act, relate to fly-tipping between April last year and March this year.

The numbers also pointed to a cost of �182,844 for clearing up the mess, a figure the council says is based on “assumptions” about the cost of removing fly-tips nationally.

But it says the cost of removal is covered by the council’s �1m-a-year contract with Serco, which also includes litter picking, street cleaning and litter bin emptying.

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The council was also forced to admit that it had not managed a single successful prosecution, despite the thousands of fly-tips found festering in hedgerows and other parts of the borough.

A council spokeswoman told the WHT: “Fly-tipping is a criminal act and anyone who witnesses a fly-tip should call the local police.”

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She added: “If the council or police have evidence of offenders and can build a robust case, we will pursue prosecution in the courts, which could result in a fine if found guilty.

“Fixed penalty notices cannot be issued for fly-tipping.”

The statistics show that UK-wide taxpayers were clobbered to the tune of more than �40m for the clearing of rubbish and enforcement of punitive action against illegal waste dumpers.

But only �692,000 was collected in fines.

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Fly-tipping blights our countryside – ruining the beautiful views for which Britain is rightly famous, endangering wildlife and habitats and costing the taxpayer millions of pounds to clear up.

“The Coalition Government promised to end this scourge when they published the Waste Review this summer.

“This is a promising start, however they need to work closer with cash-strapped local authorities to tackle this blight. “By raising the landfill tax in the budget and with more cuts coming to council budgets, this problem is only going to get worse.”

She added: “Fly-tipping is a crime that perpetrators can get away with.

“We need a coordinated plan which ensures people who fly-tip are caught and punished and provides greater support to local authorities and landowners who bear the brunt of the cost of clearing up the mess.”

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