And it would appear there is a considerable cross-party consensus on this issue, with the Scottish Government planning a new flytipping strategy in the New Year; the Scottish Liberal Democrat’s calling for increased fines; and Scottish Conservative Murdo Fraser drawing up a private member’s bill containing a number of steps designed to tackle the problem, including the introduction of “strict liability” on the original generator of the waste to ensure it is legally disposed of.
A Freedom of Information request by the Lib Dems revealed that while Scottish councils were informed of a staggering 207,960 incidents of illegally dumped rubbish over the past three years, just 2,467 fixed penalty notices were issued and there was only one conviction out of 45 cases passed to prosecutors.
Some may regard ‘littering’ as a low-level crime. However, they may change their mind on learning that organised crime gangs are now involved and that people are forced to pay about £53 million a year to remove rubbish dumped on their land. For it is the landowner on whose property the waste is discovered who must cover the cost of the clean-up. In some cases, these victims of crime find themselves targeted repeatedly by callous flytippers.
This is a most anti-social offence, one that encourages vermin, makes public spaces less attractive to use for recreation, and encourages other forms of bad behaviour and crime through the ‘broken window’ principle. Furthermore, flytipping adds to the amount of plastic pollution in the natural world – a growing problem for wildlife – and undermines efforts to move towards a more efficient and environmentally friendly ‘circular economy’ in which nothing is wasted.
The people responsible for this type of crime need to be taught a serious lesson. The worst, serial offenders should get a stiff prison sentence and the maximum penalties must be increased to send out the message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. Politicians of all parties need to work together to make sure the justice system deals with offenders far more effectively.
Scotland is a beautiful country and those who are literally trashing it must pay a heavy price for such a heinous offence.