Open letter to Scottish Government on rise in flytipping incidents

General News

Scottish Land & Estates has written to Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment Climate Change and Land Reform, highlighting the rise in flytipping incidents since lockdown restrictions began and proposing a series of measures to support farmers and landowners who experience flytipping on their property.

Letter to Ms Cunningham:

Dear Cabinet Secretary,

I am writing to you with urgent concerns about a worrying increase in flytipping across Scotland.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, and the Scottish Government has quite rightly taken urgent action on a number of fronts to prioritise and protect public health. Some of these actions have, however, led to unintended consequences. Local authorities and private contractors have been forced to temporarily reduce or suspend some services due to staff shortages and to abide by social distancing measures, which has led to an unfortunate increase in flytipping incidents. 

Flytipping is not a new problem and has been an increasing issue for farms and estates for some time. However, the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, with a spike in reports from rural businesses throughout the country. 

Landowners are left to bear the responsibility and cost of the clean-up which can often extend to thousands of pounds and in the process, creating financial problems for businesses already suffering in this pandemic. At a time when farmers and rural businesses are working harder than ever to produce vital food supplies, protect the environment and support jobs in their local communities, this is an unnecessary burden to deal with.  

We are extremely concerned about the the damage flytipping is causing to Scotland’s environment, the harm it can cause to livestock and wildlife and the overall public and private cost of cleanup. Employees at farms and rural businesses suffering from flytipping are also being placed at risk, having to remove what could potentially be hazardous material and taking on extra work at a time when we are being encouraged to only travel when it is absolutely essential. 

We were pleased to see this issue debated in the Chamber yesterday, and welcomed your statement that you are working with COSLA and local authorities to develop a wider position statement regarding the prioritisation of waste services, as well as further guidance and practical steps to addressing this issue. 

If the current lockdown restrictions are going to continue for the foreseeable future, we would welcome a commitment from the Scottish Government  to allow safe and responsible access to Household Waste & Recycling Centres (HWRC), respecting social distancing – as has recently been seen in England.

When lockdown restrictions ease or when HWRC’s re-open to the public, there will be a need for this flytipped waste to be disposed of and recycled. To support landowners who have been the victim of flytipping, we are asking the Scottish Government to allow private landowners, who did not cause or knowingly permit flytipping, to be able to dispose of the waste at their local HWRC free of charge. 

Some of Scotland’s Local Authorities already uplift flytipped waste on private land as long as it is reasonably near public land. Where feasible and resources allow, we would like to see this supportive approach taken by all 32 Local Authorities.

I firmly believe the measures set out above will help landowners, farmers and rural businesses during these unprecedented times deal with the unnecessary burden of flytipping in a manner which is fair and proportionate. 

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you further as a matter of urgency. I have attached a series of flytipping examples of the impacts experienced by our members’ businesses at the bottom of this letter.

I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience. 

Yours sincerely,
Sarah-Jane Laing
Chief Executive

PDF copy of our letter on flytipping to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform