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Flytipping cannot be defeated by enforcement alone.

The Government is proposing to prevent councils from charging for ’DIY waste’ at HWRCs and provide £450,000 grants to CCTV enforcement projects. The plans have been met with concern from the LGA and LARAC.

I am not implacably opposed to all of these plans; after all we want traders and individuals to use the HWRC, segregating their waste and minimising cost to society.  That’s beyond doubt. Making access to the HWRC cheaper and easier sounds good, and so does tracking down perpetrators of fly-tipping.

The plans seem rather one-dimensional though. Behaviour change is not easily achieved and we need to make use of household waste centres as simple and appealing as possible. When deciding what to do with a van-load of waste the alternative is to dump it in a lay-by.  For some it’s an attractive option. There are never any queues and nobody asks awkward questions or checks your vehicle. It’s open 24 hours and, above all, it’s free.

It’s absolutely right to have the ‘stick’ of enforcement, fines and campaigns to dissuade people from fly-tipping. Let’s not pretend that this won’t be an uphill battle when the HWRC has queues, requires a permit, closes at 4pm or is generally an unpleasant place to be.

We need to work on the positives.  A good, simple experience for users, from clear signage to clean walkways and easy traffic movement.  Unobtrusive technology to help people identify what they can bring. Added value such as an ‘environmental receipt’ and transparency on where the waste is going.

This will need investment – long term cultural change always does. The alternative is to further strangle council revenues and continue to focus only on enforcement. How’s that worked out for us so far?

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