Saturday, October 02, 2004

From the sublime… to the fly-tipping

It did not take long. With the Landfill Directive coming into force on 16 July – closing down nearly 190 of the 200 toxic waste tips in the country - it was only going to be a matter of time before fly-tipping hit the headlines.

That much was wearily predicted in this Blog and so it has come to pass. The front page of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus today (which boasts a higher readership in its catchment area than all the national dailies combined) proclaims: "New war on fly-tippers".

So serious has the problem become that "spy tactics are to be used in a tough new crackdown on criminals dumping scrap and dangerous waste in Bradford". Hidden cameras and secret tracking devices are to be used, while Amjad Ishaq, head of Bradford Council's ten-strong enforcement team, said the new measures were needed to catch professional fly-tippers dumping junk at some of the city's worst hot spots.

Unsurprisingly, this is just one tiny snapshot of a growing national problem with the Environment Agency confirming that large-scale tipping by gangs was on the rise across the UK. It has grown to such an extent that, according to the Agency, "people are moving out of drugs and into waste because it's profitable and people do not tend to end up in prison."

Of course, no local report would be complete without a comment from a brain-dead councillor, and one is dutifully supplied. He welcomes the spy-cameras move. "Enforcement of this nature will help alleviate and help reduce the amount of rubbish being fly-tipped in Bradford," he says. He would have common cause with Tim Yeo, Tory environment spokesman, who wants to make fly-tipping an arrestable offence.

Why can't these people get their brains round the idea that the law has created to problem, so they need to return to basic principles, and deal with the cause of the prolem, instead of stacking up more public expenditure on dealing with the symptoms of the problem?

And it is not just public expenditure. Chillingly, the newspaper also reports on the most serious recent case, when 50 tons of "deadly asbestos waste" were illegally dumped in the loading bay at Dunn Stores, in northern Bradford. "Unfortunately it was on private land so the owner had to pay to get it cleared in that instance," said Mr Ishaq. That is the devil of it. If someone tips on your land, as opposed to public land, you - the entirely innocent landowner - have to pay for its removal.

Needless to say, the Telegraph and Argus, in the style of local newspapers, does not enquire too deeply as to the root cause of the problem, but it does cite Amjad Ishaq admitting that the problem in Bradford was getting worse because of the rising cost of waste disposal. He says: "I think it is getting worse because the cost of tipping has increased, so for some businesses it is easier to fly-tip."

But nowhere is there any mention of the EU and its insanely inappropriate Landfill Directive. There is no mention of the fact that the problem hardly arose before the EU got stuck in and no criticism of the law. That is how the EU manages to get away with it, and keep claiming that it is "good for the environment".

But at least we know different.

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