Fly-tipping, the illegal dumping of waste, is a growing problem in England and Wales.
And it is hugely expensive.
In 2000, for example, the London Borough of Lewisham spent £500,000 on cleaning up household rubbish, food and drink containers and tyres dumped in back alleys and another £350,000 on removing dumped cars - money that should have been spent on road maintenance, local schools, public transport or other essential services. Fly tipping confronts people with a polluted, rubbish strewn environment, increased risk of fire and rodent infestation, and can endanger health if the dumped waste is hazardous.
According to research by Environmental Campaigns (Encams), nearly half the local authorities in England think fly-tipping is a significant or major problem and only 2% say they have no problem.
Why does fly tipping happen? Rising landfill costs have pushed unscrupulous waste contractors to profiteer by dumping waste in back yards and fields. It also enables them to save on haulage. And as economic prosperity fuels a binge of consumerism and household DIY, generating unprecedented volumes of waste, European laws have kicked in, making it illegal to landfill certain items, including tyres and fridges, at all.
Councils are often under resourced to cope with the rising tide of rubbish. There is also little public understanding of who to report fly tipping to: the Environment Agency tackles hazardous substances and borough councils other kinds of waste.