Wigan council says it has “bucked the national trend” by reducing the number of fly-tipping incidents reported compared to five years ago by more than a third.
According to statistics published by Defra, the number of reported incidents of fly-tipping in 2018/19 stood at 1696, down from 2582 in 2014/15.
Wigan council explained that despite being the second largest authority in Greater Manchester, the numbers put Wigan as the third best in the city region for the amount of recorded incidents and one of the only authorities to show a reduction.
Paul Barton, Wigan Council’s director for environment, said: “It’s really encouraging to see our zero-tolerance approach to fly-tipping is proving fruitful. It’s a result of the investments made in staffing and technology and all the hard work that the boots on the ground have put in who take a massive amount of pride in their work.
“We have been working hard to raise awareness of the broad range of materials that can be recycled and reminding residents of the simple steps they can take such as checking licences and using reputable waste removal companies through our Good Trader Scheme.”
The council explained in a statement that investment and a re-configuration of the council’s enforcement team has been vital in the “five-year journey” with 12 officers working seven days a week chasing up reports of illegal waste practices.
Before any enforcement, the council said that officers will always look to “educate first and offer support” on how they can help residents get back on their feet and start with a clean slate, with warnings offered for first time small offenders, before “a more serious approach is taken”.
CllrBarton added: “We are determined to do everything we can to catch and prosecute those people who think it is acceptable to fly-tip their waste whether that is by issuing fixed penalty notices or through the courts.
“It is vital that residents support us with this issue and we encourage anybody who witnesses it to contact us with as much information as possible such as vehicle registration, date and time so we can identify perpetrators and take legal action”.
The crackdown on fly-tippers who look to make money on the back of illegal waste removal has also proved significant by the recent statistics.
Every year Wigan Council spends approximately £850,000 cleaning up fly-tips and has therefore looked to reinvest where possible in the fight against illegal waste.
Most notably, £120,000 has been spent on physical obstacles at notorious hotspots that prevent offenders from accessing sites easily along with another £40,000 on technological equipment in the form of covert CCTV and body cameras for enforcement staff.
Council bosses will also be looking at how best to use drones in the fight against fly-tipping over the next 12 months.