COMMENT: Yes it’s costly to clean up, but we can’t let them win

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So now we know. As our report on the front page and page four reveals, fly-tipping in the Portsmouth area has become such a problem that it costs councils more than £300,000 a year to deal with it.

Add in the cost of investigation and enforcement and that figure climbs to nearly £400,000.

Because councils are funded by council tax, it means we’re footing the bill for cleaning up waste dumped by people who clearly can’t be bothered to dispose of it properly.

Fly-tipping has always gone on. The unscrupulous have always sought to profit by assuring customers they can get rid of waste after a home refurbishment or a DIY project, but then avoided a trip to the tip (and any costs) and simply left the detritus down a country lane at night.

But this unsavoury practice seems to have become more prevalent lately. Figures show a rise from 4,309 reports to 5,418 across the Portsmouth area.

Why? Well, the introduction of charges at recycling centres may well be part of the answer. But more worryingly, we detect a general lack of concern over the impact on the environment.

Quite apart from the visual offence it causes to those living nearby, there is the potential danger to wildlife of hazardous materials such as asbestos being tipped off the back of lorries in rural roads.

But it appears to be a case of out of sight, out of mind to the people who bespoil the countryside with piles of old furniture, building materials and broken washing machines and cookers.

We’re pleased to see Councillor Robert New, cabinet member for environment at the city council, say the authority is committed to tackling the problem.

Yes it may be expensive to find these people and clear up their mess. But if we value our environment, we simply cannot let them win.