By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Non-household waste charges recently introduced by Kent County Council have not led to an increase in fly-tipping, a cabinet member claims.
Kent residents have been paying for the disposal of soil (£4), rubber (£4), hardcore (£4) and plasterboard (£6) at Kent’s 18 household recycling waste centres (HWRCs) over the last five months, since June 3.
Council bosses say the charges cover the cost of managing the treatment of the materials, but concerns were raised by opposition members that more rubbish would be dumped on Kent’s streets.
KCC’s new cabinet member for environment, Cllr Susan Carey (Con) said this week: “A small charge for dealing with soil, rubber and plastic board has not turned Kent’s residents into criminals.
“But criminals are still dumping rubbish into our countryside.”
Her comments came during the second cabinet meeting chaired by KCC’s new council leader Roger Gough (Con) at Maidstone County Hall on Monday (December 2).
Cllr Carey said the new scheme is working and there has been a 45 per cent increase in the number of requested skip permits.
She added: “I know that a lot of people were concerned that a lot of the waste would end up on Kent’s roads and in its fields and beautiful countryside.
“It’s early days, but, so far the levels of fly-tipping across Kent remain broadly the same.”
Around £250,000 has also been invested into a multi-agency fly tipping enforcement plan to reduce levels across the county.
Kent Police, KCC and district and borough councils continue to work as a team to crackdown on environment crime and raise awareness.
A total of 41 fly-ttipping suspects were targeted by the authorities in Maidstone, Dover, Sevenoaks, Swale and Thanet between July and October this year, with 40 vehicles stopped and four fixed penalty notices issued.
But, Cllr Gough says KCC needs to strengthen its fly-tipping pledge and be open with the public about the number of reported incidents.
KCC’s leader added: “We have quite a job to do in terms of taking the public with us on this, a lot of people do have their doubts.
“We have sought to respond to that through this fly-tipping initiative, which we need to continue and if anything enhance.
“I think constant reporting in this area and being transparent about it is really important in terms of sustaining public confidence.”
Opposition members raised concerns over the lack of deterrents across the county seven days ago (No 29) during KCC’s environment and transport committee meeting in Maidstone.
Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem), KCC’s main opposition leader, said: “We all have different views on how the criminal justice should work but there clearly are not very many deterrents in Kent.”
His colleague, Cllr Ian Chittenden (Lib Dem), added: “We are still fighting the traditional problem.”.
In the 12 months up to May 2019 Thanet council teams cleared up 100 tonnes of fly-tipped rubbish, issued 69 fines for £400 and proecuted 25 people for flytipping; another 67 prosecutions were made against those who failed to pay fixed penalty fines; 190 enforcement notices were handed out for waste and pest damage; 772 environmental protection notices were served; 60 trade waste notices given out and 107 community protection warnings plus 20 community protection fines of £100 were served.