Land designated for regeneration in Hemel Hempstead, near London has had some 500 tonnes of waste dumped on it after it was turned into an illegal pop-up waste disposal site - one of the biggest of its kind in the UK in 2017.
According to WasteSafe Services, which cleaned the site up, ‘customers’ were charged by the truck-load to enter the site, resulting in 500 tonnes of waste being illegally dumped in just 10 days.
It took nearly a week for the Coulsdon, South London, based emergency waste specialist to clear the 15-acre former factory site. Travellers are thought to have been responsible for the fly tipping after breaking through security fencing around the land, due to be turned into offices, shops, and housing.
The company noted that a man was seen sitting on a chair at the entrance, charging people as they drove truckloads of waste in to be dumped.
"This is the worst case of fly-tipping we've ever dealt with,” said Martin Bull, Director of WasteSafe Services. "The scale was quite amazing to see. The fly tipping was clearly co-ordinated to fill the site with as much waste as possible.”
"Those controlling the site will have made thousands of pounds, while the fly tippers avoided regulations and more substantial fees associated with official waste sites," he added.
The waste included broken furniture, old kitchen units, builders' rubble, household waste, plastic, and packaging. Emergency waste clearance operatives wore specialist safety clothing to protect themselves against injury and disease.
The asbestos was picked up with an excavator and placed inside a hazardous waste skip, ready to be taken to a specialist waste disposal site.
Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy has said fly-tipping is an epidemic in Britain with the problem reaching "crisis levels".
It was responding to an ITV survey that found cases of fly-tipping reported to local councils had risen by up to a fifth year-on-year in 2016.
In Haringey, north London, there were nearly 40,000 reported incidents of waste being dumped illegally between November 2015 and December 2016. In Manchester, the figure was more than 30,000, or 77 per day.
The Government has announced tougher penalties for offenders, with councils given powers to issue on-the-spot penalties of up to £400.
"It's clear, with this case of fly-tipping, and the hundreds of others we're called out to every year, that the penalties are not deterring the offenders,” said Bull.
"They can get so much money charging people to take away their rubbish, and the risk of getting caught is so low, that fly-tipping for many is big and lucrative business," he concluded.
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