Surrey’s Countryside Counts the Cost of Illegal Fly-tipping

Old fridges, builder’s rubble, broken windows and even asbestos – Surrey Wildlife Trust has seen it all. The charity has revealed this week that it spends nearly £50,000 a year dealing with illegal fly-tipping across the county.

In the past year alone the Trust’s countryside estate team has been called out to clear up more than 100 separate incidents of waste being dumped on nature reserves and it’s a problem that only seems to get worse.

“Fly-tipping is a crime and it endangers both the wildlife that lives on the fragile natural habitats we manage and the health and safety of the people who want to enjoy using our reserves,” said Leigh Thornton, the Trust’s Estate Manager.

“The waste dumped can be toxic and dangerous, comprising broken glass, wire, sharp metal edges, hazardous waste and even asbestos. The annual cost to the Trust of clearing up fly-tips is at least £25,000 a year in staff time and specialist contractor fees to clear debris that is too large or hazardous for us to deal with.”

The Trust has also invested around £20,000 in the past 12 months installing and replacing gates and other barriers in a bid to deter fly-tippers from dumping rubbish on its countryside estate.

The Trust’s reserves most targeted by the illegal fly-tippers include Putttenham Common, Norbury Park, Wisley and Ockham Commons, Broadstreet and Backside Commons and Crooksbury Hill.

Now the Trust is appealing to householders and businesses to help stop illegal waste from being dumped in the countryside and has put together some helpful guidelines:

Hints & Tips

  • Construction waste is your responsibility, even if you pay a company to take it away for you, so make sure your trader is a registered waste carrier. 
  • Avoid rogue businesses and be wary of traders and disposal companies that you find online or that knock on your front door.
  • If you see fly tipped materials in Surrey report it to your local district or borough council.
  • Local authorities provide Household Collection Recycling points where homeowners can take waste for disposal/recycling. Contact your local council to find services in your area.
  • You could face an unlimited fine if your waste ends up fly-tipped and you can’t show you took reasonable steps to prevent it – so make sure you get a proper invoice and receipt from your waste disposal company to keep as proof.

The Trust’s Leigh Thornton added: “It’s incredible what we find dumped on our land – fish guts, bags of nappies, garden waste and even once a whole Christmas dinner, complete with table, turkey and all the trimmings!

“But it’s no joke – the cost to the countryside is enormous. We really need people to think twice before they trust their waste to a random man with a van, because if your waste is found illegally dumped, it could end up costing you dear too.”

More information about disposing of your household waste responsibly

National Fly-tipping Prevention Group