Fly-tipping is the top environmental challenge faced by most North East local authorities. It’s a crime, a nuisance and a hazard, with significant costs both financial and environmental.
Last year Newcastle City Council reported 16,150 cases of fly-tipping including dumped carpets, mattresses and more recently half a garden dumped on the green area known as Kenton Dene! Around a half a million fly-tipping incidents are reported in England every year. According the green charity ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ two-thirds of all recorded fly-tips are made up of household waste. Fly-tipping blights local neighbourhoods.
In the last year a range of enforcement measures have been taken across Newcastle to tackle littering, dumped settees, mattresses and other forms of fly-tipping. In March 2020 alone there were 86 convictions, 200 hours of community payback, four custodial sentences imposed by JPs and 230 £75 fixed penalty notices. The city has the highest level of prosecutions of fly-tipping in the country.
Councillor Ged Bell, Newcastle Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said:
” The message is simple to thoughtless perpetrators of environmental crime: mess up our city and you’ll pay.”
City Council investment
As part of the 2022/23 budget, Ged Bell has led the way for Newcastle Council to invest an extra £1.2m to enhance cleaning and maintenance programme across the city with 20 more front line staff to be taken on work across 26 neighbourhoods to tackle fly-tips, overgrown weeds and shrubs and litter.
Councillor Ged Bell added:
”Our estates and neighbourhoods are a key priority. We know residents take a pride in where they live. We want to keep our localities safe, clean and green so that’s why we’re investing in their future. Getting the little things and basics right is what Newcastle residents want.”
Last year the local authority spent more than £2m picking up over 7,000 tonnes of rubbish discarded across the city’ streets and public spaces.
The Council, its staff and elected members recognise this is an ongoing issue. Council workmen can’t be everywhere at once, and they need help from residents and community groups to tackle the ”scourge of litter and fly-tips”.
Local community volunteers
There’s been a sharp increase in the number of civic-minded residents who have started litter picking in Gosforth Central Park and Kenton Dene during and after the pandemic lockdown.
Kenton and Montagu Superheroes, made up of youngsters, guides, rainbows and local people, have carried out extensive litter picks across the area while the green pressure group Climate Change Newcastle helped to clear up the stream – ”Devils Burn” next to Nuns Moor North.
Since 2019 Newcasle Council has supported a regular roster of 300 volunteers, school group and individual residents while providing high-visibility vests, litter-hoops/gloves; gifted 155 litter-pickers to groups, loaned out 861 pickers and supplied 3,500 black bags for collecting rubbish.
Local resident, Sarah Rodgers said:
“”just prior to lockdown our local community set up a litter picking group, we were just starting to develop pride in our community & lock down hit. More than anything the green spaces around us became hugely valued. Now we are trying to get the litter picking group back together. It’s hard as only today we found evidence of people fly tipping in our green space. We need that stopped. Thankfully we have supportive councillors who help us when we have an issue but it’s still a constant battle”
Despite resources going into tackling fly-tipping – education, monitoring, removal and enforcement – the problem ”persists”. There’s a clear need for some research to be undertaken as to why a minority of people to choose to fly-tip – starting with householders. What are the ”behavioural drivers” that make some people chose to dump their waste, or pass it onto an illegal operator?