Waste dumping is becoming an increasing problem in our UK countryside. While some people may simply see this as an eyesore, it presents a very real danger to our wildlife.
One of our members Martyn Hobrough was recently out enjoying his local area when he discovered a most distressing scene.
“There are three roe buck skulls entangled in this pile of discarded rope and the whole “package” is caught in a barbed-wire fence. The remains of the carcasses are scattered around the site...”
“These animals will have died the most slow and horrific death.”
Martyn contacted us to highlight the issue and provide photographs that the BDS could use to raise awareness and assist with both training and education.
Fencing of all types - string, rope, electric fence tape, and round bale plastic wrapping or tennis court nets can cause enormous damage when wild animals like deer become entangled or enmeshed in them.
Wessex Branch of The BDS, with support from the Equine Forum, began a campaign last year asking everyone to ensure that temporary fencing and similar materials like the ones in the picture are prevented from being a hazard to wildlife. If a deer is lucky it will be found quickly and can be helped. However, as in this situation deer can die a slow and painful death.
Careless disposal of materials can be prevented through more awareness of the impact these have on the environment and greater care in there use and removal.
However, this location on the Dorset/Wiltshire borders close to Melbury Wood is close to an intersection and shows obvious signs of intentional waste dumping in the area. It would appear people are driving some distance to dump their rubbish and avoid paying the charges for proper disposal.
The dumping includes piles of black plastic bags, barbed wire, and over 100 old tyres.
Waste dumped in our countryside is damaging to the soil and vegetation and it is deadly to wildlife. Rubbish can soil habitats and create choking hazards for wildlife.
Is Fly-Tipping a Growing Problem?
For the 2017/18 year, local authorities in England dealt with just under 1 million (998,000) fly-tipping incidents and local authorities carried out 494,000 enforcement actions, an increase of 18,000 actions (4%) from 2016/17.
Incidents appear to have been on the rise since 2013.
Source Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Currently, the reported annual costs of clean up are close to £58 million (2016/2017 figures).
While the figures suggest fly tipping is not yet at peak levels in England, it is certainly not far off and on the increase in rural areas. Countryside close to busy highways is at particular risk due to its accessibility.
How the Public Can Help
The rubbish can be removed and with the public’s help, the crime can be investigated. If you see someone dumping waste, or you want to report an area where fly-tipping has taken place, take note of the following:
- Date, time and place of the incident
- What the waste looks like and how much there is
- Descriptions of any person and/or vehicles involved along with the registration number
AS FLY-TIPPERS ARE DOING SOMETHING ILLEGAL, THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE CAUGHT. DO NOT APPROACH THEM OR PUT YOUR OWN SAFETY AT RISK.
Local Authorities will deal will smaller scale, more frequent incidents and the Environment Agency will deal with larger scale, more serious incidents of illegal waste disposal, or fly-tipping including hazardous wastes and tipping carried out by organised criminals.
Reports to the Environment Agency can be made using their national hotline number 0800 807 060.
Sadly councils will not clear rubbish dumped on private land. So, in these cases, the landowner not only has to undertake the removal but also pay the cost of disposal. This is why it is also important for the public to help prevent their waste being fly-tipped.
How to Make Sure Your Waste isn’t fly-tipped
Bulky Waste (e.g. fridges, sofas etc.) – Many local authorities do provide a bulky waste collection service. Please contact your local council for details.
Garden Waste – Most councils operate a garden waste collection, often in separate bins. Otherwise, you can take garden waste to your local tip for composting or compost at home.
Commercial Waste – If you run a business, you must have a contract with a registered waste carrier to ensure that your waste is being taken away and disposed of correctly. If you are disposing of business waste yourself at a tip or a landfill, then the site must be licensed to take commercial waste. You will have to pay a gate fee and landfill tax.
If you are asking a third party (e.g. builder) to remove your waste as part of a job, you should ensure that they are a registered waste carrier. Ask to see their certificate, or alternatively check with the Environment Agency.
We all have a part to play in protecting our countryside and its wildlife populations including deer.
Thank you to Martyn Hobrough for highlighting this issue and for sharing with us his experience and photographs.