A £40 deal to get rid of rubbish cost a Somerset woman £188 in a case highlighting the duty of care every individual and business has over their waste even after it has left their premises.
At Somerset magistrates this week, Nicola Watson, aged 34, was fined £73 wth a £20 victim surcharge and £95 costs after her waste was fly-tipped by men paid to take the waste away.
The successful case is the latest example of coordinated action by Somerset County Council and all district councils that is helping drive down figures for illegal dumping.
In another duty of care case, Wayne Clapp, aged 33, of Catalan Way, North Petherton, was fined £150 with a £20 victim surcharge in February after his waste was fly-tipped under the Huntworth Viaduct by men he paid to remove rubbish.
In November last year, Yvonne Rutherford, of Lisieux Way, Taunton, was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £397 for dumping rubbish in Bower Lane, Bridgwater.
In January, Leon Stevens, 38, of St John’s Road, Frome, admitted fly-tipping in East Woodlands and was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £250 of costs.
And in April, van driver Florin Marcel Lacatusu, aged 33, of Rockwell Green, Wellington, was fined £600 for fly-tipping, with £150 costs and £60 victim surcharge fee for dumping rubbish into a nature reserve near Waterrow.
In the latest case, Watson, of Sunnymead, Bridgwater, admitted at Somerset magistrates sitting in Taunton on 12 May that she had failed to take reasonable measures to ensure the transfer of household waste to an authorised person.
After neighbours’ complaints about rubbish, she paid men to take away waste that was later fly-tipped in a ditch between Rhode Lane and Dancing Hill in Bridgwater. She added: “I was not aware of the law. I am guilty of not checking that they were the right people.”
The fly-tippers did not even finish what they were paid to do, the court heard.
Prosecuting for Sedgemoor District Council, solicitor Nigel Osborne said: “She had paid three men £40 to dispose of the material for her. They took half of the refuse and stated they would return for the remainder but never did.
He added: “Fly-tipping is a serious offence … its blight is not only visual but can often have serious health and safety implications, and the costs of dealing with it are substantial.”
The case was the first in Somerset in which magistrates consulted new guidelines on sentencing for environmental crimes that will be formally introduced in July.
The prosecution was brought as part of renewed efforts by all Somerset district councils to clamp down on fly-tippers through new equipment, warning signs, newspaper adverts and further training for enforcement officers, backed by Somerset County Council.
A Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) spokesman said: “This case emphasises that residents should check that any trader taking their waste away has the right licence, and that any member of the public needs to be vigilant.”
“Everyone has a duty of care to ensure their waste is properly handled by licensed traders and sent to a place that can legally take the materials.
“All councils in Somerset are working together to drive down fly-tipping and deter, catch and convict fly-tippers.”
In Somerset’s local weekly papers, “Ask ‘Em” ads advise householders and businesses how to stay legal by cutting off the supply of waste dumped by rogue traders – from builders to man-and-van operators – by only doing business with those willing to produce their waste carrier licence.
Residents are advised to get and keep a receipt with full contact details and to record the registration number of the vehicle that removes the waste.
Details of all recycling sites, their opening hours and the materials they take can be found on the SWP website at http://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/sites/opening or by calling Somerset Direct on 0845 3459188. Business directories list legitimate companies that provide waste services.
In April, five of Somerset’s busier recycling sites – Bridgwater, Frome, Minehead, Taunton and Yeovil – began opening 8am-4pm seven days a week.
For more information on fighting fly-tipping, visit: http://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk.