Fly-tipping 'epidemic' blamed on rogue traders and council restrictions
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A HUGE increase in fly-tipping throughout the county has been blamed on "restrictive" council regulations and "rogue traders" illegally dumping.
Those are the prevailing views from local people in a social media post in which several talked about the problem reaching "epidemic proportions".
Caithness civic leader Willie Mackay said: “I can't understand why fly-tippers want to turn our beautiful county into an eyesore. All the recycling centres are within easy reach for us all across Caithness, so why dump it in ditches and lay-bys thinking this is smart? Because it’s not.
"Only yesterday I was called to Upper Thrumster farm to see some carpeting, pallets, shelving and, to my horror, two dangerous sharp knives which obviously were used in fitting carpets. This is a disgrace and dangerous as children play nearby to where this material was dumped – somebody must know where it came from.“
A recent report in the paper showed various items that had been illegally dumped throughout Caithness with two mattresses in Thurso being highlighted by members of the public.
One mattress has blocked a narrow entry between Queen’s Terrace and Oldfield Terrace for well over a month despite being reported to the council numerous times.
A local man, who did not wish to be named, said: "This entry is used by several elderly people to access the nearby shop. If any of them tried to walk across it, they could easily have fallen face first onto the tarmac.
"The bulky uplift lorry has driven past the entry it’s in, but they didn’t pick it up, so I presume they haven’t been instructed by their manager. A neighbour said when it was reported that it should be dealt with within 10 days after they access it, but maybe it’s a decision they need to sleep on first.
"I can’t see that it’s dangerous to move and if it was a hard job, then at least they have something to fall back on. To be honest, I don’t think any of the neighbours will rest until it’s removed and I hope the council can waken up to the problem its causing and get it dumped as soon as possible."
Thurso community activist Alexander Glasgow talked of another mattress – along with a bed and settee – that has been sitting in the town's Towerhill Road "for upwards of two months".
He said: "I am confident about the identity of the individual responsible, and have spoken with the [housing] landlord. A common refrain on social media is that residents of the area would never do such a thing. Self-evidently it has happened here.
Mr Glasgow says he also knows of local operators "accepting payment for removal of items then fly-tipping them".
"I have heard similar anecdotes from more than one source. I would not be as circumspect to call them rogue traders – I would call them wide boys. I would recommend that anyone with large items to remove either wait until full council services return or use only verified traders. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
John S R Macleod from Wick thinks that restrictions at Highland Council recycling centres have fed into the problem.
"I have no doubt that the hassles involved make people fly-tip," he said.
"I think the rules are ridiculous. It’s not the staff's fault but it can be so stupid at times."
Mr Macleod said he went to Wick recycling centre with a CO2 gas cylinder and was told it was an unacceptable item. "I said I’ll take the valve out and put it in the metal skip as it’s no longer a pressure cylinder. No, not good enough, I’d have to cut it up. Crazy, without the valve it’s just a lump of metal."
Mr Macleod says the cylinder is sitting in his back garden again but thinks the restrictions may tempt others to fly-tip.
When contacted, the council had no explanation as to why the mattress blocking the path in Thurso had not been picked up for over a month and reiterated its comment from the previous report.
A spokesperson said: “Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste. We can issue fines from £200 to £20,000 or the offender can receive six months in prison – up to five years if hazardous waste is dumped.”
Illegal dumping can be reported to the council at this link www.highland.gov.uk/info/1054/rubbish_and_recycling/89/litter_and_fly-tipping