I am very pleased to be able to speak in this debate on fly-tipping. I thank my hon. Friend Neil Parish for securing it. Fly-tipping is a blight on many of our communities, both rural and urban. My hon. Friend is right to suggest that it is counterintuitive for local authorities. This is about local priorities, and I am afraid that it was not a priority for the previous Labour administration on my council.
My constituents in Stoke-on-Trent South have seen a number of incidents of this nature in the past, but I am pleased to say that the now ever-diligent city council is taking a stand and has a zero-tolerance approach to environmental crime. Although far too many alleyways and open spaces are blighted by this horrific behaviour, I am delighted to report that the recent results show vast improvements locally. The perpetrators face swift justice and are taken to court.
I do not plan to speak at length, but I want to bring hon. Members’ attention not only to the increasing problem of illegally dumped waste but to the deeply concerning industrial-scale black market industry that has developed as a consequence of it. My hon. Friend Amanda Milling has done a considerable amount of work on this subject with the excellent Staffordshire fire and rescue service. She asked me to mention the Slitting Mill waste fire in her constituency, which took many months to extinguish. This issue affects many constituencies around the country, and I hope we can secure another debate on it soon.
The case of the Slitting Mill fire throws into sharp relief the huge problem that fly-tipping on a commercial scale can cause. There is a huge risk of fire and environmental damage, and it blights the aesthetics of our communities. Those risks are amplified when the dumping takes place close to critical infrastructure, where any fire is likely to compromise vital services—not to mention the devastating economic implications and disruption that can follow.