How are councils combatting fly-tipping in West Sussex?

The council has been campaigning for people to use a Licensed Waste Carrier to remove their rubbish. Picture: Allan Hutchings
The council has been campaigning for people to use a Licensed Waste Carrier to remove their rubbish. Picture: Allan Hutchings

With more and more unsightly piles of waste blighting the countryside in West Sussex, we asked what was being done to combat the issue.

An investigation has revealed that large-scale flytipping is on the rise in West Sussex, with 1,488 incidents recorded in the county since 2012.

Every council in West Sussex saw a rise in the number of large-scale fly-tipping incidents between 2012 and 2019, except for Crawley.

Read the investigation in full here.

In Chichester, which has seen the highest number of large-scale fly-tipping incidents over the last seven years in West Sussex, equating to around 84 incidents per year, a spokesman said the district council was working hard to tackle this crime as part of its award-winning Against Litter campaign.

The district saw 116 incidents of large-scale fly-tipping in 2018/19 alone.

Most of these (566) were classed as a lorry load of waste in size, while 108 were classed as significant or multi-load incidents.

A serious offence

A spokesman for Chichester District Council said: “Fly tipping is an offence that we take very seriously.

“Not only does it ruin the landscape of our beautiful district, but it also poses an environmental risk and costs over £350,000 of taxpayer money to clear up every year.”

The council said it had been: informing residents about their waste responsibilities and the importance of using a registered waste carrier to legally dispose of their waste; working with local tradespeople to raise awareness of this important status; supporting local waste carriers who were already registered through the launch of a new scheme that helps them promote the fact that they are licenced; and, encouraging people to report fly-tipping to through its website or through the Love West Sussex app.

The council has also employed a dedicated Environmental Protection Officer to investigate fly tips and gather evidence to try to catch those responsible.

If they were able to identify who has carried out the fly tips, they would then look to issue them with a Fixed Penalty Notice or take legal action, the spokesman said.

‘Work with us’, council says

The council also works with officers from neighbouring local authorities and with the Environment Agency, who take the lead investigating larger scale fly-tips, the spokesman said.

“Every part of the district is affected by fly tipping and so we really need residents and businesses to work with us to try and prevent this,” the spokesman said.

“One of the most important roles that people can play in the fight against fly tipping is to make sure that anyone they employ to remove excess household waste is licensed as a waste carrier with the Environment Agency.

“What many people are unaware of is that if they pay someone to remove their waste and then this is then fly-tipped, they can be held responsible.

“This could result in a prosecution and a fine. By law, we are all responsible for our own waste.

“This is known as ‘duty of care’, and means that whether you have finished a DIY project; been clearing out unwanted household items; or, have been busy sprucing up your garden, it is down to you to make sure that your waste is disposed of safely and legally.

“People should always ask for a waste transfer note at the point that their waste is removed, along with a receipt, which can then be kept as proof.

“We have been speaking to as many people as possible to make them aware of this.

“Last week, for example, our Environmental Health Officers met lots of people at their stand at the Chichester Farmers’ Market, and we are planning more events over the coming months to engage with residents and businesses alike.”

Use a reputable company

A spokesman from West Sussex County Council echoed the importance of using a reputable company or local trader with a Waste Carrier’s Licence if paying for someone to take their waste away, in order to avoid ‘unwittingly contributing to fly-tipping’.

Despite efforts by councils to bring perpetrators to justice, this was not always easy, according to councillor John Belsey – the cabinet member for environment and service delivery at Mid Sussex District Council.

“We always investigate fly-tips to try and find evidence of who is responsible but it is very rare to find something to can be used to build a prosecution,” he said.

“Therefore, our primary focus is on removing fly-tips from public highways as soon as possible to reduce risks to the public.

“Fly tipping is an irresponsible and anti-social act that spoils the beautiful Mid Sussex countryside for everyone.”

He urged residents to help the council catch culprits by remaining vigilant and reporting any information they have to the council’s waste team on 01444 477440.

SEE MORE: Large-scale fly-tipping on the rise in West Sussex – and ‘rogue traders’ are to blame