Have reduced opening hours at waste sites prompted increase in fly tipping across St Albans district?

Flytipping in Drop Lane

Flytipping in Drop Lane - Credit: Archant

Mounting concern about a large increase in fly tipping in the district has prompted a special meeting of councillors to try and get to the bottom of why it is happening.

And one issue they want to investigate is whether the two-day-a-week closure of the county’s household waste sites has contributed to the growing problem which is forcing St Albans council to spend extra money on clearing larger piles of illegally-dumped rubbish.

Last February, even before the household waste sites went on to part-time opening, the Herts Advertiser revealed that fly tipping incidents had doubled in the district.

Much of the tipping is taking place in country lanes - Bedmond Lane near the Verulam Estate experienced a 57 per cent increase between last September and this July - and there has also been an increase in the number of smaller fly tips occurring in residential areas.

That is attributed to residents either putting out waste in communal parking areas, on open spaces or leaving excess waste out after a collection in the knowledge that it is generally removed by a contractor as part of the street cleaning component of the council contract.

But there has also been an increase in white goods being fly tipped in both country lanes and residential roads which, the district council admits, could be associated with the changes in opening times of the household waste sites although there is no direct evidence of that.

A report to the local services scrutiny committee says that the closure of household waste sites two days a week had led to issues with large queues of people trying to access them at peak times which could have a bearing on the increase in fly tipping.

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But while the situation is being monitored, it is difficult to prove without evidence that a fly tip was originally destined for a household waste site.

The report also reveals that currently there is no provision in the two household waste sites in St Albans and Harpenden for commercial contractors to dispose of business waste although Amey Cespa, which operates all the county sites, is in the process of setting up a commercial waste service at the st Albans depot.

But there will be a charge because the county council has no statutory responsibility to dispose of commercial or industrial waste.

In the year up to May 2015, 863 fly tips were cleared in the district by council contractors who, together with private landowners such as farmers, had complained about a surge in fly tipping.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, chair of the scrutiny committee, said that while members were concerned about the reduced opening hours of household waste sites, “evidentially it is quite a difficult thing to prove”.

After the debate at committee it was decided that a separate meeting would be held to discuss the whole issue and make recommendations.

He felt that the impediments placed on people turning up at household waste sites and finding queues or that they are closed could be exacerbating the problem.

Cllr Rowlands added: “I want to explore the situation, what we should do and make representations to county if necessary to say we seem to have a greater incidence of fly tipping.”