Owner of suspected fly-tipper truck stuck at Queen Elizabeth Country Park before mysteriously catching fire could 'get away with it' campaigner says after authorities accused of not doing enough
OWNERS of a suspected fly-tipper truck that was mysteriously engulfed in flames after getting stuck and abandoned at a country park could ‘get away with it’, as authorities are accused of not doing enough.
That is the view of anti-fly-tipping campaigner Martin Montague who said it was ‘shocking’ that illegal dumpers often face no consequences even when there is compelling evidence.
The ClearWaste founder was speaking following the discovery of the tipper vehicle full of household waste at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Clanfield late on Wednesday night (February 24).
It has since emerged the truck caught fire with police called and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service attending the blaze on Friday evening around 8.30pm.
Martin, who launched a viral campaign to have the truck ‘crushed’ last week, told The News: ‘The truck being set on fire is an obvious attempt to cover up evidence of its criminal activity and potentially claim on the insurance.
‘I’m hoping the owners will be prosecuted. I am relieved another fly-tipping vehicle can no longer be used.’
However, police have said they are not treating the incident as suspicious while it has been suggested more evidence is needed to prosecute. Action is being taken to remove the waste and truck though, it has been confirmed.
Councillor Rob Humby, deputy leader and member for transport and environment at the county council, said: ‘Our countryside team is working with the police and East Hampshire District Council on this incident and are arranging for the fly-tipped waste material and the truck to be removed and dealt with appropriately.
‘There is no excuse for fly-tipping, it’s a criminal offence, and we are committed to working with our partners and Hampshire’s communities to tackle this blight on our countryside.
‘In order to bring about successful prosecutions, our district and borough colleagues need evidence, such as witness statements and photos.
‘It’s really important that residents report fly-tipped waste if they see it, but if people see criminals in the act of fly-tipping, I must be clear that they should not approach them and put themselves in danger but should call the police.’
A police spokeswoman said: ‘We were called to reports of a truck that was alight on the A3 slip road to Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
‘Our colleagues from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with the incident and officers were not deployed.
‘The incident is not being treated as suspicious at this time.’
She added: ‘This isn’t something we’re investigating at this time.’
Following the developments, Martin was less than impressed. He said: ‘It’s the same old stuff as there was evidence at the back of the vehicle where there were boxes with address details, so technically under duty of care legislation they could issue fines and more.
‘It’s shocking what these people get away with.’
The county council did not clarify what ‘appropriate’ action was being taken with the truck.
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A spokeswoman for HFRS said: ‘Two breathing apparatus and one hose reel jet were used to extinguish the fire. The engine compartment and cab of the vehicle were completely destroyed. The stop call came in at 9.09pm.’
Councillor Ingrid Thomas, EHDC portfolio holder for neighbourhood quality, said: ‘The council spends thousands a year on clearing up fly-tips from public land and will always look to investigate tips to find those responsible and prosecute. The law gives magistrates the power to hand out heavy fines or even a prison sentence.
‘We all have a role to play in combating fly-tipping. If you hire someone to take your waste away make sure you check they have the right paperwork beforehand. If you do not and the waste is later dumped you may also be held legally responsible.’
Meanwhile,Cllr Humby added: ‘In Hampshire, we have made it as easy as possible for people to dispose of waste responsibly, legally and conveniently.
‘Household waste can be taken for free by householders to our large network of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs), which continue to operate effectively and efficiently for Hampshire residents.
‘We’ve also opened up most HWRCs to small businesses as a convenient and cost-effective alternative to commercial waste transfer stations.’
Find out more about Hampshire County Council’s fly-tipping campaign: www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/flytipping/report-fly-tipping