What is the difference between private land and public land? The answer, apparently, is about 12 inches.
Last month, a farming friend received a call from a near neighbour to tell him a lorry load of tyres had been dumped on his land. On closer inspection, he discovered alongside the tyres were several tree stumps.
A trail of mud on the road led my friend to a nearby farm that operates alongside a lorry and tyre business.
Of course, after contacting the police no physical evidence could be obtained and the matter could not be taken any further.
The culprits had managed to dump the waste half on the grass verge and half in the gateway of my friend’s field – leaving him to bear the cost of clearing it away.
Now, I have known other farming associates who, when presented with the same problem, somehow manage to move any illegally dumped waste entirely onto the grass verge – making the clear-up a job for the local council.
That’s understandable and easy to do – if a little naughty – when the waste in question is a fridge or an old mattress. But it is much harder when confronted with a lorry load of tyres and half a forest. So my friend contacted the local council.
A person who can only be described as a jobsworth reluctantly agreed to visit the site. Eventually, having had a good look around, he told my friend that the tyres were on private land – despite a significant overlap.
The council employee insisted that the tyres were 12 inches away from the council’s property. My friend asked if the council could help. But he was swiftly told no – and the council employee couldn’t recommend any firms that could either.
It seems that this local council – alongside many others – enjoys making life as difficult as possible for local businesses.
To make matters worse, the local council recycling centre has stopped accepting any sofas. The result is that nearby roadsides are rapidly becoming littered with lounge furniture of various shapes, sizes and colours.
On further investigation, my friend found two or three firms who said they would be willing to take the tyres. But their disposal would cost from £2000 upwards – and couldn’t include any large lorry tyres.
Why not? Because the local council had imposed so many rules and regulations on the firm, making it difficult to dispose of large tyres properly and economically, so the company had to transportthem further afield.
Some organisations claim that fly-tipping incidents like this are on the decline. I’m not so sure. Farmers and landowners have simply stopped reporting incidents because nothing gets done. Instead, they are clearing away the waste themselves.
In this area, as soon as one pile of waste is cleaned up, the next pile appears. It doesn’t matter whether gates are locked or gateways are blocked – the culprits dump their illegal rubbish anyway.
Even when caught, fines are seldom and punishment is ridiculously light. Unless the dumpers can be caught red-handed or filmed, the chance of prosecution is slight.
It is unacceptable that local councils refuse to clear waste from private land – especially as they make waste disposal so difficult with too many regulations and permits that are unworkable.
Once again, local farms and local rural residents suffer alongside the majority of the public. Like many others, my farming friend faces a bill for thousands of pounds and the dumpers are likely to return very soon.