Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Fly-tipping is illegal but on the increase - a sign of the times!

Illegally dumped rubbish. Photo by Steve Andrews

Fly-tipping or illegal dumping is on the increase in many places. It is unsightly, a potential health hazard, damaging to the environment and against the law.

Sadly our countryside, back lanes, roadsides and other areas of public space are getting filled with rubbish. Litter is bad enough, especially plastic items that can end up in rivers and drains and make their way to the sea where they can kill turtles, seabirds and whales, but all sorts of domestic and industrial garbage and waste materials are getting dumped. 

Plastic bags can easily get blown into waterways or end up in the branches of trees or stuck in bushes and hedgerows.

It is mainly domestic rubbish that gets so irresponsibly dumped like this but also materials from industry and construction gets thrown away too. Besides looking like the mess that it is, illegally dumped rubbish attracts rats and other pests, and can contain dangerous toxic materials that can be a serious health risk to animals and humans.

Large items, such as mattresses, old cookers and fridges, are just as likely to be dumped as bags of smaller types refuse.  Clothes, kitchen utensils, toys, garden rubbish, broken glass, carpets, rugs, bricks, building materials, televisions, tyres, broken flowerpots, tiles and furniture are some of the items and materials that are often thrown away like this.

Fly-tipping in Portugal Photo by Steve Andrews

The varied and beautiful countryside of Portugal, where I am now living, is so often spoiled by this serious problem. Back home in the UK the situation is just as bad. 

A report by The Guardian newspaper states that fly-tipping is up as much as by 20% in England after many years in which it was diminishing. 

Higher taxes on legally dumping rubbish at landfill sites, as well as cuts in local services are blamed for the problem. Closures of recycling depots and not as efficient local rubbish collection services have helped increase the problem of fly-tipping too. 

Although flytipping is against the law and local authorities will take action to prosecute offenders, it is often difficult to find out who the culprits are and much of the activity is carried out under cover of darkness. 

It is difficult to understand the people who care so little about the environment and the health of others with the eyesores they create with their illegal dumping of trash. 

Personally it makes me very annoyed seeing how this problem is getting worse. It really ruins my day when I am out enjoying a walk but come across a mouldering pile of refuse cast into an area of natural beauty!

So what can be done about this?  Of course, if we see it going on we can call the police, or if by some chance we know who is responsible then it can be reported. Unfortunately this environmental crime is so often carried out under cover of darkness.

Perhaps local groups of volunteers can be organised to help clean up countryside sites too? 

It is really such a shame and a sad sign of the times to see our rural areas being turned into rubbish dumps!

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