WEST Berkshire Council has been asked what it is doing to actively prosecute fly-tippers.
At a meeting last week, local resident Susan Millington put the question to the council’s executive member for waste, Dominic Boeck.
Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request show the council spent almost £30,000 on cleaning up illegally-dumped waste between July and December 2016.
The council cleared a total of 543 fly-tipping sites over the last six months of the year, costing an estimated £29,125.
The number of reported incidents rose by almost 10 per cent compared to the first six months of 2016, with 493 instances of fly-tipping reported in the first half of the year.
As well as the overall number of fly-tipping incidents rising during the six months that followed, the number of car boot-loads and small van-loads that were illegally dumped in West Berkshire significantly increased from 316 (January to June 2016) to 393 (July to December 2016) – a 20 per cent rise.
The cost of disposing of these smaller loads alone rose from £6,121 to £9,530.
In July, a permit scheme was introduced to stop West Berkshire residents using Smallmead Recycling Centre – located just a short drive across the district boundary in Reading.
The move was in response to West Berkshire Council’s decision to withdraw a £460,000 annual payment to Re3, which runs the facility.
Mr Boeck said: “In order to ensure that we carry out our duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner the council has an enforcement policy.
“Each fly-tipping case is considered on its own facts.
“For a decision whether or not a fly-tipper should be prosecuted, a number of tests have to be met in line with the code from crown prosecution.
“These tests are evidential tests and public interest tests.
“So, it really depends, to a large extent, how strong our evidence is, if fly-tipping has been instigated by a particular individual or organisation.
“Then how severe it is and what the likelihood of a successful prosecution would be.
“If the case doesn’t meet those evidence tests and public interests tests, then those cases may not go to court.
“We are very keen that cases do go to court and I am happy to say we do pursue the investigation of fly-tippers and subsequent enforcement very actively.”
Ms Millington said: “Fly-tipping is increasing. Is the council going to put any further resources into spotting fly-tippers in action in order to gain that evidence?”
To which Mr Boeck replied: “The latest figures from quarter three don’t show any significant increase in fly-tipping. We have not seen the increase in fly-tipping you refer to.”