Council pleas for help tackling environmental crime

Picking up litter and fly tipping is a never-ending, full time task for teams including the Litter Hit Squads from Outdoor Services. The Council spends on average £1.35m a year, just collecting litter and fly tipping and this money could, and should, be spent on proactive projects that make East Ayrshire a better place to live.

The team also work with local community groups and individuals providing litter picking equipment and bags for community clear ups. If you wish to hold your own community clear up or want to make a positive change where you live please email: outdoor.amenities@east-ayrshire.gov.uk

The Council has a Corporate Enforcement Unit, which is out daily investigating fly tipping, dog fouling and all environmental crime. The CEU works closely with Police Scotland and has recently invested in quad bikes to ensure that they are in a position to carry out patrols in more rural areas. The team is also developing an online reporting tool that will help members of the public pinpoint fly tipping and make it easier to report. This work is ongoing and the CEU is hopeful this will launch fully in March. They are very active on social media and can be followed on Twitter @EACEnvCrime

The Ayrshire Roads Alliance is set to become responsible for clearing our road verges of litter. While the A roads will remain under the jurisdiction of Transport Scotland, the Alliance will be responsible for verge clearing throughout East Ayrshire. This is dangerous work and normally requires road closures to ensure that work can go ahead safely. Road closures aren’t free and contribute to the cost of clearing up any litter dropped. Again this isn’t a victimless crime, by throwing litter from a vehicle you are taking money from your own community and from the most vulnerable.

And within Education a Litter in Schools initiative has been rolled out to Loudoun Academy and all the feeder primary schools within the area. This scheme will continue to be rolled out to all schools in the coming months and will encourage children and young people to consider the impact littering has on their environment and encourage positive behaviour.

Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet Member for Older People and Community Safety said: “Like many people across East Ayrshire, I am out in my community regularly collecting litter and reporting environmental crime, like fly tipping. I am so grateful to local people who are working with Outdoor Services helping to keep East Ayrshire beautiful. We see what you are doing and thank you for it!

“This isn’t a task for a handful of people though. We all need to do our bit to stop the scourge of environmental crime. If you see someone fly tipping report it to the Council’s Corporate Enforcement Unit with as much detail as you can, this means people will get caught and fined for their selfish actions. Fly tipping isn’t a victimless crime either, if waste is dumped on private land it is the owner’s responsibility to clean it up, which can be costly. Surely, at this time when everyone is struggling and life is so difficult we can recognise the impact of our actions on the environment and others.

“Issuing fines is absolute the last thing we want to do at the moment, but what choice have we got. In some areas, we just can’t keep on top of the fly tipping and people need to understand that their actions have consequences. Littering, dog fouling and fly tipping is an environmental crime; it can lead to a criminal conviction and a maximum fine of £40,000.

“Fly tipping and littering is the scourge of our countryside the length and breadth of Scotland. In East Ayrshire, we are taking a strong line against offenders who choose to fly tip waste and drop litter. We will use all powers at our disposal to ensure that people get the message, if you choose to fly tip or litter expect a fine in return. We are determined to make East Ayrshire Clean, Green and Vibrant but it has to be a group effort. We are in this together and can only deal with this together.”

Councillor Sally Cogley, Chair of the Clean, Green and Vibrant Member Officer Working Group said: “Unfortunately since March last year we have seen a significant increase in littering in our local communities. More people are walking locally and enjoying our beautiful countryside. This has led to some people littering while they are out and about and many people are choosing not to pick up after their dogs.

“There are lots of people who are out in their communities carrying out litter picks, but our communities can’t reply on such a small number of people. We have to work together and educate others that this behaviour isn’t acceptable.

“I am very hopeful that the Litter in Schools initiative, which will be delivered online and in class to our children and young people, will create positive change now and in the future. It will help our children and young people understand that they have a choice to protect their environment and that their actions can make a huge difference. We can create change with small steps and we all have the power to make change happen.”