Published: April 21, 2011
Concerns grow over rising fly-tipping in Burnham-On-Sea area

Dumping of waste in the countryside around Burnham-On-Sea appears to be on the increase following the reduction of opening hours at nearby Highbridge recycling centre. has been alerted by several readers in recent days to increased cases of fly-tipping.

These photos show rubbish dumped along Stoddens Lane on the outskirts of Burnham this week. Other waste has been left to roads on Highbridge's Isleport Industrial Estate.

It comes after recently reported here that Highbridge's Isleport Recycling Centre has begun operating on reduced hours as part of cost-cutting at Somerset County Council. The centre is shut on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and now operates a half day on Sundays.

Somerset Waste Partnership Managing Director Steve Read told this week: "Fly-tipping at Highbridge and Bridgwater Recycling Centres has so far proved a limited and declining problem as residents get used to the new timetable, which includes closures on two days a week and from 1pm on Sundays."

"The changes in hours are part of a package of savings affecting all the county's recycling facilities to help meet funding reductions of £1.9million over two years from Somerset County Council. We expected that it would take a little time for changed arrangements to settle down."

"There will always be a few who miss out or forget, but fly-tipping at these sites has not been in great volumes. We think for the most part it is due to people who genuinely did not know about changed arrangements."

He added: "While we appreciate that residents are not always happy about what we have had to introduce, and we apologise to anyone inconvenienced by the changes, many people continue to make full use of all our services."

SWP also points out that leaving waste at a place where it is not permitted can be classed as fly-tipping, which is a criminal offence and the penalties for those convicted can be up to five years' jail or an unlimited fine.

It urges anyone with information about fly-tipping to contact Sedgemoor District Council.

Burnham and Highbridge MP Tessa Munt told on Wednesdau: "The County Council's policy is short-sighted, and doesn’t make financial sense. It isn’t the County Council budget which covers the costs of removing dumped rubbish - it's Sedgemoor District Council who have to 'carry the can' and, as a consequence, taxpayers in the Burnham area will end up paying much more in the long run."

"We calculate that you only need a small number of incidents of fly-tipping each week for the County Council's cost 'savings' to be wiped out by the extra costs placed on the district council."

A Somerset Waste Partnership spokesman added: "Unfortunately, any material intended for recycling but left as fly-tipping will be collected and taken to landfill, and all of these costs, including £56 a tonne in government landfill tax, are paid by all council tax-payers. So far, the only evidence we have to link fly-tipping to the changes is the occasional placing of materials outside recycling centres. We are working with colleagues in the district councils to monitor the impact of the changes on fly-tipping and kerbside collections. It is early days, and we expect things to settle down once people are more used to the changes."

Highbridge County Councillor John Woodman added: "There have been cuts to the service to balance the book, these are not desirable, but as we all know there is less money now than there was before. Somerset County Council has a debt that costs about £100,000 a day to service, which was left to us by the previous administration. Without this, we could do so much more. Highbridge recycling centre remains open for 40 hours a week and there is no charge for entrance or charge for domestic waste."


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