ENVIRONMENT: FLY TIPPING AND WATER P;OLLUTION ARE THE SCOURGE OF OUR COUNTRYSIDE

Some people just don’t appreciate the beauty of Scotland.

By Bill Heaney

Fly-tipping is a scourge in West Dunbartonshire and Argyllshire’s hills and river banks where people love to go for walks and cycle rides.
But what are our police and local councils doing about this pain in the tail when there have been just three prosecutions from 32 reported cases of fly-tipping in the past 12 months?
Locally we have individuals like Tam Towie and groups such as the Friends of Havoc Shore doing fantastic unpaid work to keep our environment tidy.
There’s no question these volunteers could do with a hand, but what’s the Scottish government doing about it?
The Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan, this week told MSPs: “Fly-tipping is a criminal offence and an activity that has no place in Scotland.

“We take the matter very seriously and are developing a new litter and fly-tipping strategy, which will be ready for consultation by the end of this year and will be published in early 2022.

“The issue of enforcement is one of the key themes of the strategy. We will review current processes and legislation, including where they may need to be strengthened or where new legislation may be required. I absolutely welcome views and encourage participation in the upcoming consultation.”

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser:  said: “I think the Minister will appreciate the frustration that is felt in local government about the fact that a huge amount of time and effort goes into preparing cases against people who are caught fly-tipping, but when those cases are sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, only a tiny percentage of them are taken forward for action.

A beautiful vista at Loch Lomond spoiled by fly-tipping campers.

“As the Minister might know, I am currently working on a member’s bill consultation on how we might strengthen the law in this area. Will the minister agree to meet me to discuss how we might work together to resolve the problem?”

Ms McAllan replied: “I understand the frustrations of local authorities, the police, the Procurator Fiscal Service and, of course, those people who are unfortunate enough to have to deal with fly-tipping on their land. I live in a rural area and I have had personal experience of the issue, so I know how frustrating it is.

“I am aware of the bill that the member is developing. I have not seen the content of it yet, but I would be glad to meet him to discuss it.” 

SNP MSP Christine Grahame told the Holyrood parliament: “Of course, fly-tipping goes way beyond the ubiquitous street mattress. I understand that serious organised crime is involved in commercial fly-tipping. Will that be factored into the Government’s consultation?”

Ms McAllan said organised crime and criminal activity is a key part of one of the many challenges that the Government face as regards litter and fly-tipping. I

“We are engaging with Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal Service—crucially, we are also engaging with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency—to look at those very issues.”

Meanehile,  Responding to reports in The Ferret which reveal that environmental protection officers found Scotland to be “way behind” England in solving its sewage spill problem, with Scottish Water presiding over an “unacceptably high” number of leaks and senior SEPA staff hesitant to review Scottish Water’s operating licences in bulk in case it suggested the watchdog’s enforcement had not been strong enough, Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:  “Just days after SNP MPs lambasted the UK Government for voting to allow raw sewage into rivers, it emerges that their Scottish Government has a very smelly problem of its own.  Neither the SNP nor the Conservatives can be trusted with Scotland’s waterways.

“It’s particularly troubling that the environment watchdog’s first concern wasn’t for the health of our streams, rivers and communities but for their own reputation.

“The environment minister should come to Parliament to deliver a statement on what is being done to clear up this sewage leak crisis.”

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