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Tackling fly-tipping in Lewisham

Cllr Patrick Codd, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, writes about how Lewisham Council is preventing and tackling fly-tipping, as part of its work to create a cleaner and greener Lewisham

Fly-tipping has a detrimental effect on our local communities - including huge environmental and public health impacts, as many dumped items are not biodegradable and may contain hazardous chemicals that are harmful to residents and local wildlife. Illegally dumped rubbish also makes our streets and neighbourhoods look untidy, causes a public nuisance for people who are following the rules and responsibly disposing of items, and costs the Council money which could be put back into the essential services that our residents rely on.

We’ve made tackling fly-tipping a central priority, and we are doing everything in our power to prevent people dumping rubbish illegally and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

Fly-tipping is a key focus of our new Waste Strategy for 2021-2031, which was developed in consultation with local residents and businesses and approved by Mayor and Cabinet this week.

The actions set out in our new Waste Strategy will build on our ongoing work to tackle fly-tipping in the borough. This includes setting up a dedicated Environmental Crime Enforcement team who engage with residents to ensure that they know how to responsibly get rid of unwanted items and take action against the small minority of people who fly-tip in our borough. Offenders who are caught fly-tipping are issued with a £400 on-the-spot fine.

Since its establishment in August 2021, the team has issued almost 800 fines for environmental offences, including littering and illegally dumped rubbish. Officers are continuing to tackle known fly-tipping hotspots and using CCTV to gather evidence which is being used to prosecute offenders.

Last month, I joined the team on one of their rounds in Deptford to see first-hand the incredible work that they’ve been doing in partnership with our Cleansing Team, who remove illegally dumped rubbish, to support our residents and help create a cleaner Lewisham.

We’ll be investing in additional mobile CCTV equipment to help officers tackle other hotspot areas, as part of the commitments set out in our Waste Strategy.

These enforcement activities go hand-in-hand with our Cleaner Lewisham campaign, which was launched this summer to encourage residents and businesses to work with the Council and create a cleaner borough. A key part of the campaign is hosting community events, such as litter picks, and inviting residents and businesses to pledge to keep their local area tidy. The campaign has also been raising awareness of how to dispose of waste responsibly, where to report fly-tipping and other waste crimes, and the obligations that residents and businesses have when it comes to getting rid of their rubbish.

As part of this work, we developed a Cleaner Lewisham app to make it easier for waste crimes to be reported and dealt with – which we’ll continue to improve as part of our new approach to waste management. This will help ensure that we’re focusing our efforts on the right areas at the right times, and support us to identify and tackle any new or emerging issues.

We’re also one of the few London boroughs that offer a free mattress recycling service, where residents can dispose of unwanted mattresses in a responsible and environmentally-friendly way.

These are just some of the steps we’re taking to tackle fly-tipping and other waste crimes in our borough – but we can achieve even more with your help. If you need to get rid of unwanted items, you can find out how to do so safely, responsibly and legally on our website. It’s also important to report any instances of fly-tipping, so that our teams can clear illegally dumped rubbish as soon as possible, and take enforcement action against those responsible.

By working together, we can prevent waste crimes, deliver on the priorities set out in our new Waste Strategy and create cleaner, greener and healthier neighbourhoods for all of us.

Read the full Waste Strategy for 2021-2031.

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