Fly-tipping and Illegal Dumping — [SIR MARK HENDRICK in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:02 pm on 24 May 2022.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray 3:02, 24 May 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Mark. I congratulate my hon. Friend Saqib Bhatti on securing this debate. Although these issues are devolved, it is right that in our UK Parliament, Members representing all constituencies have the opportunity to raise concerns about their local areas.

Fly-tipping is a major issue in Moray, as it is in other parts of the country. In 2016-17, there were 139 reported incidents of fly-tipping in Moray, but the most recent figures show that in 2020-21 the number had risen to 402. For a very remote and rural area, that is a high number of incidents. Local people rightly complain about them, and, as we have heard, people have to pay for them.

At the same time, according to freedom of information figures from Moray Council, in 2016-17 seven people received fixed penalty notices. Despite the fact that the number of incidents has more than doubled in the period to 2021-22, only 16 fixed penalty notices were issued in the most recent year. It is a serious concern that the people responsible for these illegal dumping and fly-tipping activities are not being held accountable for their actions.

My hon. Friend spoke about mattresses, and others have talked about more toxic items that are illegally discarded. That is important, because although any material discarded in this way is unsightly, in some cases it is also extremely dangerous. Some time ago, in Tugnet near Spey bay in Moray, people dumped a large amount of asbestos, which is clearly dangerous for anyone who goes near it and hazardous to the officials from the council who had to go along to clear it.

I am pleased that we had excellent local government results at the start of this month in Moray, where the Conservatives are now in charge—every one of our candidates was elected, while the SNP went backwards. In response to another FOI request, Moray Council could not tell us how much is spent on clearing up this waste, so I hope the new administration in Moray will put out more knowledge about the cost to the council. The public deserve to know how much their local authority is spending on clearing up waste in their area.

The last thing I want to speak about today is a consultation that has just closed in Scotland on a new fly-tipping Bill, which is being brought forward by my Scottish Conservative colleague Murdo Fraser MSP. The legislation in Scotland has not changed since 1990, and we have seen no action from the SNP on this issue over their 15 years in power. That is why the Scottish Conservatives are leading this charge. The consultation closed last night with 190 responses, which were overwhelmingly positive about new legislation coming forward. The Bill would ensure better data collection and reporting mechanisms for fly-tipping in communities, and it would ensure that the land or property owner is not responsible for clearing it up. We have heard time and time again today about the cost to innocent people, and therefore we as Scottish Conservatives want far more onus to be placed on finding the perpetrators and making sure they pay for clearing up.

My plea to the Minister is that she joins the growing list of people supporting this legislation in Scotland. Scottish Land & Estates has said:

“We were pleased to help Mr Fraser develop his Member’s Bill and strongly support the Bill’s intentions to rid Scotland of fly-tipping once and for all”,

and Robin Traquair, vice-president of National Farmers Union Scotland, has said:

“Fly-tipping is such a major issue across Scotland that action needs to be taken to change the law when it comes to dealing with those responsible. Such positive action to tackle fly-tipping, through this Private Member’s Bill, is something NFU Scotland would fully support.”

I hope that today, we also get the support of a UK Government Minister, because this is legislation that we need in Scotland.