The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued a warning to the public about the illegal dumping of waste during the festive season. The agency said that flytipping is a serious environmental crime that can harm wildlife, pollute waterways, and create fire hazards.
Flytipping incidents increase during holidays
According to SEPA, flytipping incidents tend to increase during the holidays, as people dispose of unwanted items such as furniture, appliances, garden waste, and packaging. The agency said that in 2023, it received over 4000 reports of flytipping across Scotland, with more than 600 in the north-east region.
SEPA’s area environment manager for the north-east, Ian Buchanan, said that flytipping is not only unsightly, but also dangerous. He said: “Flytipping can pose a risk to human health and the environment, as well as costing taxpayers and landowners money to clear up. It can also attract vermin, cause flooding, and damage habitats and wildlife.”
He added that flytipping is a criminal offence that can result in a fixed penalty of £200 or a fine of up to £40,000. He urged the public to report any incidents of flytipping to SEPA or their local council, and to use licensed waste carriers or authorised recycling centres to dispose of their waste legally and responsibly.
Tips to avoid flytipping
SEPA has provided some tips to help the public avoid flytipping and reduce their waste during the festive season. These include:
- Plan ahead and check the opening hours and restrictions of your nearest recycling centre or waste transfer station. You can find them on your local council’s website or on SEPA’s online tool.
- Donate or sell any items that are in good condition and can be reused, such as clothes, books, toys, and furniture. You can use online platforms, charity shops, or community groups to find new homes for your unwanted items.
- Recycle as much as possible, such as cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, metal, and food waste. You can use your kerbside collection service, recycling banks, or compost bins to recycle your waste. You can also check what items can be recycled on SEPA’s online tool.
- Reduce your waste by buying less, choosing reusable or recyclable packaging, and avoiding single-use items. You can also make your own decorations, gifts, or cards, or buy them from local or ethical sources.
SEPA’s role in tackling waste crime
SEPA said that it is working with other agencies and partners to tackle waste crime and protect Scotland’s environment. The agency said that it has a range of powers and tools to prevent, detect, and prosecute waste crime, such as:
- Conducting inspections, audits, and investigations of waste sites and operators
- Issuing enforcement notices, suspension notices, and revocation notices to ensure compliance with waste regulations
- Imposing fixed penalty notices, variable monetary penalties, and enforcement undertakings for minor offences
- Referring serious cases to the Procurator Fiscal for prosecution
- Seizing and disposing of vehicles and equipment used for waste crime
- Sharing intelligence and information with other regulators, police, and local authorities
SEPA said that it is also developing a new waste tracking system, which will enable the agency to monitor the movement of waste across Scotland and identify any illegal activity. The system is expected to be operational by 2025.
SEPA’s chief executive, Terry A’Hearn, said that waste crime is a “blight on Scotland’s environment and communities”, and that the agency is committed to stamping it out. He said: “We are working hard to make sure that waste is managed properly and legally, and that those who flout the law are held to account. We are also working with the public and the waste industry to promote a circular economy, where waste is minimised and resources are reused and recycled.”
He added that the public can play a vital role in helping SEPA to tackle waste crime, by reporting any suspicious activity, choosing reputable waste carriers, and reducing their own waste. He said: “Together, we can make Scotland a cleaner and greener place for everyone to enjoy.”