Scourge of the countryside: fly-tippers must be stopped

The fridges off Hixberry Lane. Picture: Ellen Myring

The fridges off Hixberry Lane. Picture: Ellen Myring - Credit: Archant

Outraged residents are demanding robust action is taken against fly-tipping after a mountain of fridges have been dumped in a notorious hotspot.

The fridges off Hixberry Lane. Picture: Ellen Myring

The fridges off Hixberry Lane. Picture: Ellen Myring - Credit: Archant

The pile of white goods, spotted on Tuesday morning just off Hixberry Lane, has been branded “selfish” and “obnoxious” by locals.

Criminals broke into the Oaklands College site to gain access, smashing a lock and dumping the waste.

Ellen Myring discovered the aftermath of the crime: “I just think it’s so saddening that individuals are happy to abuse neighbourhoods, it doesn’t only affect one person - it affects an entire ecosystem.

“It damages the planet with poisonous gas, nonbiodegradable plastic strewn, large plastic and metal blocks which can potentially cause serious injury - not to mention the animals that will consume the rotting food and become ill.

“The list of negatives is endless due to selfish, obnoxious people.”

This incidence is the final straw for an area increasingly plagued by the crime over the past year.

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Discarded junk has included tyres, construction waste, abandoned caravans, windows, food, and household appliances.

Depending on where the waste is left, either St Albans district council (SADC), Herts county council (HCC) or private landowners have been repeatedly forced to foot the expensive disposal bill.

Over 2016 to 17, tax payers in Herts had to fork out £1 million in clean-up and investigative costs.

On this occasion, Oaklands College will have to shell out the cash. Director of student experience, Sean Scully, said: “Our site was illegally accessed through forced entry and criminal damage.

“The site is now secure again and we are working with a private waste contractor to clear the area.”

St Albans district council (SADC) do not have responsibilty for the clear up because it is on private land - however, it is happy to offer waste management advice to Oaklands.

A local resident, Susan Gardner, added: “There’s always been a fly-tipping issue round here, but the last two years it seems to have exploded onto a much bigger scale. It’s not just here - Kimpton, Welwyn, and Kensworth are all hotspots. I can go on a 50 mile bike ride and see fly-tipped waste at least every five miles.

“There must be a better way of enforcing the rules. We have to be paying a fortune for this crap to be cleared.”

Hotspots include Barley Mow Lane and the various fields in Colney Heath.

Another local, Sam Arkwright King, said: “What can the council do? As long as people are still using unlicensed tradesmen for a cheap quick fix this will continue to happen, there are plenty of legit businesses that will take this away, unfortunately some people will always want to save 20 quid regardless of who or what they affect with their choices.

“Changes like this start at home.”

One of the ward’s district councillors, Chris Brazier, said: “Fly-tipping is an anti-social event. I think people always say it’s travellers but it is not always - it’s people with house building rubble they want to get rid of, it’s people who get paid to take away fridges and them dump them and keep the money.

“It messes up a nice area that other people enjoy for their own selfish means.”

Cllr Brazier said he had been tackling fly-tipping in his ward for many years, but efforts are often obstructed by the difficulty in securing prosecutions.

He would therefore like to see more CCTV in known hotspots.

“There is a large area that isn’t policed at night, there are dark areas which have not got CCTV and they have not got anybody out there patrolling it so people drive off the A414 to a dark area and just get rid of the stuff.”

Earlier this year the Hertfordshire Fly-tipping Group (FTG) has launched SCRAP, a new initiative to tackle fly-tipping across the county.

FTG is made up of Herts police, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Environment Agency, the National Farmers Union (NFU), charity Keep Britain Tidy, and councils in the area - including SADC and Herts county.

SCRAP is an acronym to remind people of their obligations when deposing of waste: Suspect all waste carriers, Check and verify their registration details, Refuse unsolicited offers, Ask for evidence, and get all the Paperwork.

Anyone who spots fly-tipping taking place should contact police on 999. Anything discovered afterwards should be reported to SADC on 01727 809019 or on