Followers of my blog will recognise flytipping as an issue that I’ve raised and returned to from time to time. In 2010/11 there were 407 incidents of flytipping across the Taunton Deane Borough costing council taxpayers a total of £11,705 to clear up. Pretty bad, yes? Well, it got a lot worse. After Conservative-controlled Taunton Deane and Somerset County councils introduced fees to deposit certain types of waste at Household Waste Recycling Centres, and limited the opening hours at many of the sites, flytipping incidents, entirely predictably, went through the roof with 681 incidents the following year, with clear-up costs doubling to £22924. Flytipping in Taunton Deane peaked in 2014/15 with 864 incidents costing a whopping £45,270 in clean-up. Incidents fell back a little in 2015/16 (the last full year for which figures are available) but there were still 785 flytips costing £43,525 to clean up, 4 times the cost before the tip closures and fees were implemented. Using 2010/11 as a baseline, Taunton Deane has spent over £100,000 cleaning up the additional flytipping. It was inevitable that the tip closures and fees would lead to more flytipping. Even the Government Minister in charge said so at the time. Eric Pickles, no lover of Council spending, said in April 2011, “Charging for using recycling centres and the local dump will create perverse incentives for fly-tipping, harming the local environment and diverting tax-payers’ money into clearing up.
I’m pleased that Somerset Waste Partnership responded positively to my campaign and re-opened some of the principal recycling centres on a 7-day/week basis but the time has come to re-open all the sites and abandon the fees.