FLY-TIPPING has become an epidemic during the coronavirus crisis, but should we be surprised?
The closure of recycling centres – not just in Tameside but across the whole of Greater Manchester – for the foreseeable future has exacerbated a problem which already existed and is the scourge of society and which saddens me greatly.
Editor Tony Bugby with his mountain of wasteYou only have to leaf through previous editions of The Correspondent to see beauty spots like Walkerwood Reservoir in Stalybridge continually blighted by fly-tipping, and that was when the means of disposing refuse was unrestricted.
If the public fly-tip when recycling centres are open, it will surely become an even greater problem when are shut.
And in the wake of hundreds of reported incidents throughout Tameside since the lockdown was introduced, the local authority had had to divert extra resources to investigate incidents and try and track down the perpetrators.
In those circumstances, wouldn’t it have been more cost effective to keep the recycling centres open, even with restricted hours?
It is a dilemma and a no-win situation for the local authority because they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Yes, we are in lockdown, expected to stay at home and only venture out when absolutely necessary.
Being effectively under house arrest many, myself included, have been able to live in our gardens where the green waste I generate is almost of an industrial scale given its size.
There are 14 builders’ bags and about 30 ordinary ones stacked on the path – a mountain not quite as high as Everest but more like Mont Blanc – waiting to go to my local recycling centre which is usually a second home.
Yes, it looks an eyesore in an otherwise pristine garden, something I will possibly have to live with for several months until life returns to normal.
For some, though, they would find that intolerable and the temptation would be to dump it elsewhere. That has happened on a grass verge within sight of my home.
The whole question of waste disposal remains a thorny and controversial issue.
Only recently across the whole of Greater Manchester new measures were introduced to restrict the number of visits to recycling centres with cars one per week and vans once each month with vehicle number plate recognition used for policing.
This is undoubtedly to clampdown on tips being used by builders and other businesses to dispose of large-scale waste.
But if you make it punitive for them, some of the more unscrupulous ones will take the risk and dump it for free.
That was the case in rural Cheshire and Staffordshire when I was working on my previous newspapers.
We reported on fly-tipping on an industrial scale – hundreds and sometimes thousands of tonnes – on lanes and in farmers’ fields, a blight on our green and pleasant land.
The best way to reduce fly-tipping is to make it as easy as possible for both homeowners and businesses to dispose of their waste. And even then, it will never completely eradicate the problem.