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Council take on rogue businesses in effort to reduce fly-tipping

Householders in West Lothian are being urged to play their part in tackling illegal fly-tipping.

15 May
Flytipping

The council's data shows that 80% of fly tipping locally is caused by commercial businesses/tradespeople dumping materials such as large quantities of garden waste, old kitchens and bathrooms, building materials and items such as old car tyres. Data shows that there were 265 more incidents of fly-tipping in 2018 compared to 2017.  

Householders are now being encouraged to check that their tradespeople have a valid waste carriers licence before employing them - otherwise householders could end up being fined.

Both tradespeople and householders are legally responsible for ensuring that they dispose of their waste items legally and safety. The cost of disposing waste in landfill sites has risen consistently over recent years for business, with the Scottish Government continually increasing the landfill tax rate (now £92.61 per tonne) in an attempt to encourage businesses to recycle more of their waste. Some businesses try to cut costs by not having a waste carriers licence with waste often ending up being illegally dumped.

To reduce incidents of illegal fly-tipping, householders are being encouraged to ensure that the tradespeople they employ have a valid waste carriers licence which allows them to dispose of waste. If they don't, residents should think twice about using their services.

In an effort to raise awareness around illegal fly-tipping, the council will be more proactive in highlighting illegal dumping that occurs in West Lothian. The council will take photos and share them on social media and with the local press. The council  will also encourage more local residents to contact the council if they are aware of people who are deliberately fly-tipping or if they recognise any of the materials that are being dumped. The council will investigate reports and involve Police Scotland where required.

Andy Johnston, Service Manager within the council's NETs, Land and Countryside Services said: "Both residents and businesses are legally responsible for disposing of waste legally and safely. It's important for residents to know that they can be fined if their waste is illegally dumped, even if it is not them that physically dumped the waste. However that can be avoided by simply asking to see a valid waste carriers licence. If a tradesperson has a waste licence and materials are still dumped, residents should report the tradesperson as the contractor is responsible.

"However residents have a responsibility to check that their tradesperson has a valid waste carriers licence in the first instance. If they don't have a waste carriers licence residents should ask themselves where their waste is going to end up?

"In there's no waste carriers licence then the chances are that their old carpet, bathroom suite or garden waste will be dumped by the side of a road or in a local park. A tradesperson without a waste carriers licence might be able to offer a householder a slightly cheaper rate for work, but is a small saving worth a fine and/or court action?

He added: "A common complaint that the council hear is that fly-tipping is caused by the introduction of slim bins, bulky uplift charges or not enough recycling centres. That is simply not correct. The vast majority of fly-tipping is materials that would never be placed into a household bin, picked up via a bulky uplift or taken to a council run recycling centre.

"Fly-tipping isn't the fault of the council or Police. It's caused by people who know they are in the wrong and make the wrong choices. Fly-tipping is illegal and we will step up our efforts to catch those responsible. However we can't do it on our own and we need residents and tradespeople to work with us."

Tom Conn, Executive councillor for the Environment added: "The Scottish Government aims to make Scotland a zero waste society and has extremely ambitious targets around minimising our demand on primary resources such as landfill and maximizing the reuse and recycling of items.

"To meet those targets councils will continually making changes to waste collection services in an effort to increasing recycling and decrease waste that is diverted to landfill. More and more changes will have to be put in place as we work towards the national target of less than 5% of waste going to landfill by 2025. "The cost of disposing of waste in landfill is increasing for both councils and businesses and that is unlikely to change.

"However increasing costs is not an excuse to illegally fly-tip. There is no excuse.

" Everyone needs to work together and take responsibility for how their waste is being disposed of. That will require more effort on everyone's part and we would urge local traders and local residents to be aware of their own responsibilities and do what they can to rescue fly-tipping and ensure that West Lothian remains a lovely place to live."

You can report fly-tipping at Report Illegal Fly Tippingor call 01506 280000

Householders should also get a waste transfer note/receipt which should state where waste is being removed from and where the waste is going to be disposed of, the cost of removal and trader details. If they can't provide this information, don't use their services.  A register of valid waste carrier licences is available via the SEPA website SEPA

Frequently Asked Questions on fly-tipping

Fly-tipping is wrong, it's illegal and we need residents and tradespeople to work with us to reduce incidents.

Is fly-tipping on the increase in West Lothian?

  • Fly-tipping has always taken place and the number of incidents does fluctuate. However data shows that there were 265 more incidents of fly-tipping in 2018 compared to 2017.  Data also shows that the increase is attributed to commercial operators.

How much does the council send on clearing up litter and fly-tipping?

  • WLC spends over £2.5m each year the cyclical clearing of litter and fly-tipping

If you had more Recycling Centers or bin collections then fly-tipping wouldn't be a problem?

  • 80% of fly-tipping is a result of commercial operators dumping household waste such as old kitchens, large amounts of garden waste, concrete, large numbers of car tyres, and building materials.

    Commercial operators cannot dispose of these materials at Recycling Centers or in a household bin. They have a legal duty to dispose of their commercial waste at specialist recycling centres. Therefore having more bin collections or opening more council run recycling centres will not help in the vast majority of occasions.   Fly-tipping is wrong, it's illegal and we need residents and honest tradespeople to work with us to reduce incidents.

Why are commercial operators dumping their household waste?

  • Both tradespeople and householders are legally responsible for ensuring that they dispose of their waste items legally and safety.

    The cost of disposing waste in landfill sites has risen consistently over recent years for business, with the Scottish Government continually increasing the rate in an attempt to encourage businesses to recycle more of their waste. Some businesses try to cut costs by not having a licence with waste often ending up being dumped illegally.

Has introducing slim bins caused more fly-tipping?

  • No.  The materials that are being fly-tipped aren't materials that would or could be placed into a household bin (large or small). Concrete, industrial garden waste, kitchens etc.

    Slim bins have helped increase recycling rates in West Lothian. In 2018, West Lothian Council recorded the largest rise in household waste recycling rates in the whole of Scotland. Recycling rates in the area have risen by a fantastic 12.8% to 61.3%, which is the second highest rate of household recycling in the country. The average household waste recycling rate in Scotland is 45.6%, an average increase of 0.6%.

Can residents be fined if they don't check that their tradesperson has an appropriate licence to remove and dispose of discarded household materials such as garden waste, old kitchens/bathrooms etc?

  • Both tradespeople and householders are legally responsible for ensuring that they dispose of their waste items legally and safety.

What can residents do to help?

  • It's important for residents to know that they can be fined if their waste is illegally dumped, even if it is not them that physically dumped the waste.

    This problem can be avoided by simply asking to see a valid waste carriers licence. If a tradesperson has waste carriers licence and materials are still dumped, residents should report the tradesperson as the contractor is responsible.

    Householders should also get a waste transfer note/receipt which should state where waste is being removed from and where the waste is going to be disposed of, the cost of removal and trader details. If they can't provide this information, don't use their services.  A register of valid waste carrier licences is available via the SEPA website SEPA

    However residents have a responsibility to check that their tradesperson has a valid waste carriers licence in the first instance. If they don't have a waste carriers license, residents should ask themselves where their waste is going to end up? If there's no waste carriers licence then the chances are that their old carpet, bathroom suite of garden waste will be dumped by the side of a road or in a local park. It is unsightly, dangerous and it costs the council to uplift it. That's diverting resources and money away from other local services. A tradesperson without a permit might be able to offer a householder a slightly cheaper rate for work, but is a small saving worth a £200 fine or court action?

Didn't some media reports highlight that Livingston is the worst area in the UK for fly-tipping?

  • Yes, they did but the reports are not accurate and are misleading

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