ENVIRONMENTALISTS have welcomed proposals to allow councils to seize the vehicles of people caught fly-tipping.
Offenders found dumping waste could soon have their cars seized and impounded by a local authority – without a warrant – under new powers.
The laws could also see council officers selling seized cars and using cash to clean up the streets.
Until now environmental health officers could only seize a vehicle if there was no registered keeper and, only then, with the backing of a warrant from magistrates.
Now the government is consulting on amendments to the Control of Pollution Act 1989, which would enable cars and vans to be taken if there is reasonable suspicion they are involved in fly-tipping.
Jackie Forrest, of Stakes Lodge, Waterlooville, who has campaigned against fly-tipping for many years, said: ‘If there’s a risk people are going to lose their vehicles, maybe it will act as a deterrent.
‘Something has to be done as it’s only going to get worse.’
Ray Cobbett, from Havant Friends of the Earth, said: ‘There are fines – but it’s not at the level where there’s discouragement to potential tippers.
‘They still think it’s worth taking the risk.
‘The law needs to say that it’s not worth taking the risk because if you get caught it’s going to be really expensive. I welcome this move.’
But both warned that the biggest obstacle to prosecuting offenders remains catching them in the act.
The reforms have been supported by the Country Landowners and Business Association, which represents farmers and rural businesses.
Robin Edwards, director for the south east, said: ‘Owners of land or property are liable for any waste that is fly-tipped on their land, and they can be prosecuted if they do not clear it away.
‘Nationally, this costs rural businesses up to £150m every year in clean up costs.’
Last year The News launched a campaign to crack down on fly-tipping and urged people to report incidents.
In Havant borough, 1,173 incidents were reported in 2012/2013 – up a quarter from 930 incidents the previous year.
The government consultation ends next Tuesday.