Fly-tipping

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th August 2020.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

2. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what action it is taking to tackle fly-tipping. (S5O-04469)

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I call Roseanna Cunningham. [Interruption.] I am terribly sorry. I should take my glasses off so that I can see. I call Mairi Gougeon.

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

Fly-tipping is illegal, dangerous and completely unnecessary. Responsibility for dealing with litter and fly-tipping rests with local authorities. We have developed with Zero Waste Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and local authorities a national waste management marketing campaign that sets out how the public can manage waste responsibly during this difficult time, and it includes messaging on fly-tipping.

The national litter strategy, which also includes measures on fly-tipping, is coming to the end of its five-year lifespan. We are currently considering how best to take that forward, and to take forward a review of policy in the area.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

Sadly, fly-tipping is a scourge on many local communities, with areas such as the Clyde walkway suffering from people dispersing litter at sites that people enjoy using for walks and leisure. I commend the Rutherglen Reformer for the work that it is doing to campaign against fly-tipping.

What action is being taken to review the powers and resources that are available to local authorities to ensure that they have an adequate toolkit available to discourage and penalise fly-tippers?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

I completely agree with what James Kelly said, because I think that all members have seen what appears to be a massive increase in the rate of fly-tipping in their communities. We need to get a handle on how massive and wide a problem that is, so I encourage all local authorities to use the litter mapping services that I mentioned, so that we can properly map where fly-tipping is taking place and get an idea of the scale of the issue.

Fly-tipping is a massive problem for local authorities. Perth and Kinross Council has set up a fund to try to help landowners in its area. If local authorities want to set up funds to help landowners in their areas, it is within their powers to do so; such initiatives are important.

We are considering what further action, if any, can be taken, working with COSLA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Zero Waste Scotland. Better national data will help us to develop plans.

I encourage people to report fly tipping to the dumb dumpers and new litter monitoring initiatives, so that we can find out the scale of the problem and do what we can to tackle it.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I have three requests for supplementary questions, so I ask members to keep their questions quite tight.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

Many land-based businesses have reported an increase in rubbish, including rubbish that is left by irresponsible access takers such as dirty campers. Given that in January 2003 the Scottish Parliament passed the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which sets out statutory rights of responsible access, will the minister assure the Parliament that she will take decisive action to address such unacceptable behaviour, which is destroying our beauty spots and frightening tourists away? Will she give serious consideration to the merits of helping local authorities to employ additional countryside rangers, not only to help to police responsible access but to deter wildlife crime and add value to the visitor experience in our wonderful natural environment?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Before the cabinet secretary responds, I remind members that when I ask you to give quick supplementary questions and answers, it is because I am trying to be fair to all members. It is not fair to colleagues when people use up all that time.

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

I thank Finlay Carson for the points that he made. I completely agree: I have been as disgusted as other members have been with some of the scenes that we have seen in our beauty spots. We live in such a beautiful country and it is shocking and disgusting to see it being destroyed in that way by people who are being irresponsible—the few who are determined to destroy things for the rest of us.

A number of issues have been raised. It is vital that we fully consider all the available options for tackling the problem. The review of the litter strategy will be important in looking at the scale of the problem and how we can tackle it. This is a serious issue, about which we need to do something.

Photo of Willie Rennie Willie Rennie Liberal Democrat

The minister rightly cited Perth and Kinross Council and the special fund that it has set up. The cost of fly-tipping is often picked up by private landowners and farmers. Would it be possible for the Government to set up a special central fund to enable councils throughout the country to take such action?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

Of course, the ultimate responsibility remains with local authorities and private landowners. However, an urgent multi-agency response is required and, as I said, I am working with all the different agencies to see what action we can take to try to tackle the issue.

As Willie Rennie said, Perth and Kinross Council has set up a fund. Local authorities have the power to do that.

Photo of Neil Findlay Neil Findlay Labour

In an answer to a parliamentary question, the Government said that it does not know the annual cost of picking up litter and dealing with fly-tipping. The current maximum fines are £80 for littering and £200 for fly-tipping. Will the minister find out how much it costs annually to deal with those issues, so that the budget can reflect the problem? Will she look again at the level of fixed-penalty notices and bring them up to a more punitive level?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

Some of the issues that I talked about in my previous answers will be key to getting that information. It is about ensuring that we have an idea of the full scale of the issues and that we can map that properly and get all the available data together. Again, I say that it is about working with other agencies and getting a holistic picture of what we are looking at. As I have said, we also need to look at the litter strategy. All those points will be pivotal in the discussions.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Question 4 is from Murdo Fraser, who joins us remotely. [Interruption.] I have just been informed that I missed out John Mason. I am terribly sorry. How could I do that?