Exclusive: New figures reveal the shocking scale of fly tipping across Sheffield
“It’s a horror show”, said Linda Ball of Sheffield Litter Pickers, as she spoke of one of the areas in the city most affected by the blight of fly tipping.
New figures obtained by the Telegraph from Sheffield Council have today revealed there were 12,124 incidents of fly-tipping reported to the authority last year – a statistic that is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as many more will go unreported.
The shocking number equates to around 33 incidents, where waste is illegally, and deliberately, dumped on a highway, roads, lanes, verges and public rights of way, every single day in 2020-2021.
The number of reported incidents has dropped since the previous year, figures show, when it stood at 14, 231, and since 2019-2019, when there were a total of 15,254 incidents.
But Linda said: “We think we’ve seen a huge increase in fly tipping when we are out and about – trade waste particularly.
“It has just been more crazy than ever. It has been a year to remember in terms of fly tipping and we do report a lot.
"There is a lot of cannabis waste dumped – that’s massive. We find the spent plants, the growing medium which is little pellets. Gleadless Valley is a big hotspot for that.
"There’s also a lot of big items like mattresses, trade waste so sinks and tiles, carpets, and then there is the domestic stuff, things that should go in the black bin but doesn’t when people can’t manage their black bins.”
Members of Sheffield Litter Pickers don’t only report littering and fly-tipping to the council. Every day they head out to clear up bags of dumped items themselves.
Linda said other hotspots they frequently attended included Manor Laith Road, at Skye Edge, and Grange Lane in the S5 area, as well as The Lumb in Gleadless Valley, which is close to Blackstock tip.
The Telegraph asked the council to confirm the 20 locations where fly tipping was reported most as part of its request for information but that detail could not be provided.
Linda added: “Manor Laith Road at Skye Edge is a horror show. There are other areas in Pitsmoor and Burngreave as well that seem to be hotspots.”
The figures show that in the last year, 92 fixed penalty notices were issued for fly tipping, which equates to less than one per cent.
However that was an increase on fines issued the previous two years, when just 28 and 43 fixed penalty notices were handed out respectively.
Fly tippers can risk prosecution and the offence carries an unlimited fine or up to five years imprisonment.
Linda said: “The number of fines handed out isn’t touching the problem. But it is so difficult to enforce and catch somebody in the act.
"It is tricky without CCTV everywhere. We have asked for cameras at Skye Edge but it has not been forthcoming.
"These figures are just a drop in the ocean compared to what is going on.
"The public is so important in this – the more that fly tipping gets reported the more resources are allocated to the problem.
"I would urge people to pick up the phone and report fly tipping when they see it, we have been told that by Amey and the council, and then they can go and deal with the problem.
“It is time consuming to report it but it is not a waste of time.”
At Sheffield Council, Coun Paul Wood is the new member of the executive responsible for waste management after the change in authority leadership to a Labour and Green co-operative.
He said of the new fly tipping figures: “My view is we need to increase the enforcement, take a zero tolerance stance and declare war on fly tipping. That’s my personal view.”
The council has installed nine CCTV cameras in fly tipping hotspots, which Coun Wood said was understood to be at least partly behind the rise in fixed penalty notices given out last year.They are portable cameras and council contractor Amey also has some.
Coun Wood, whose full role is cabinet member for housing, roads and waste management, said there would be more money and enforcement to help tackle the problem through Sheffield’s new local area committees, launched before the election, and safer neighbourhood projects.
It is difficult to catch fly tippers as they often strike at night, and at locations off the beaten track.
Coun Wood said it was also difficult to calculate the financial cost of fly tipping to the council as some of it was covered through the PFI contract with Amey.
But he added: “They (Amey staff) could be doing something else far more beneficial and useful than picking up fly tipping. Fly tipping is very high on my agenda.
"It is damaging to the environment and damaging to wildlife – it is dangerous to wildlife – and a lot of it takes place off the main roads.”
He urged people who spotted fly tipping taking place to report it and had a message for those dumping waste: “What would they think if this was happening in their own backyard? “Have some consideration for the rest of the city and be aware if you are caught you will be punished for it.”
To report fly tipping, visit sheffield.gov.uk/content/sheffield/home/pollution-nuisance or call the council on 0114 2734567.