Gwynedd residents are being urged to steer clear of illegal waste disposal operators as part of a new crackdown on fly-tipping.
The county council says although some parts of Wales have reported an increase since the COVID-19 lockdown began, there have been fewer incidents in Gwynedd than this time last year.
The Fly-tipping Action Wales campaign has been launched to urge householders to manage their waste responsibly and be vigilant when accepting offers from anyone posing as legitimate rubbish removal firms on social media.
Councillor Catrin Wager, the council’s member for municipal matters, has thanked Gwynedd residents for ”their efforts to ensure that we keep our communities clean and tidy.”
She said: ”Unlike some other areas of the country, we have not seen a spike of fly-tipping here in Gwynedd, and we are obviously eager to see this continuing.”
”Our waste teams are doing heroic work maintaining key services across the county. Fly-tipping would place extra strain on our teams, and we could really do without it.”
”I’d also encourage residents to make full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collections, as well as the paid-for garden waste collection which is available every fortnight. If you do have items that cannot be recycled or composted, please dispose of them in the green wheelie bin.”
”I’d also encourage residents to use ApGwynedd or our website to report any incidences of fly tipping they do come across on their daily exercise, so that we can address the issue, and so we have an accurate picture of the situation across the county moving forward.”
Some local authorities have raised concern about the number of people offering illegal services in community groups such as those found on Facebook.
They fear such activity has increased since social distancing was introduced with reports of waste being dumped in fields, on roadsides and along country lanes.
While many people are already minimising their waste production and disposing of it correctly, residents are being reminded that they have a legal duty of care to check with Natural Resources Wales that the person they use to remove rubbish from their home is a registered waste carrier.
Fly-tippers could face being fined up to £50,000 or a year in jail if they’re caught.
But if a waste enforcement officer traces fly-tipped rubbish back to a householder that did not make the appropriate checks, they risk an unlimited fine and prosecution. Councils in Wales can also hand out fines of £300 as an alternative.
Councillor Wager added: ”We are aware of instances of individuals offering to remove waste illegally and use the Coronavirus emergency as a way to make money.”
”Residents who are arranging such services should ask the companies to show their waste carriers licence, to obtain a receipt and to find out where their waste will be disposed.”
”We understand that residents may be frustrated that recycling centres are currently closed but we kindly ask that people be patient. We are in unprecedented times and as an authority we are doing our best to ensure that we find the best possible balance between maintaining services that are important to our residents, and adhering to government guidelines on essential travel and social distancing.”
The council’s also backing a call from North Wales fire chiefs to not burn any excess waste in their gardens.
Tim Owen, arson reduction manager at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: ”If you choose to dump rubbish you could be fuelling the fire and in effect you are then choosing to contribute to a tragedy.”
”One or two bags of rubbish or a piece of furniture dumped can attract more – there is a cost to us all, a drain on emergency services resources, environmental damage, loss of wildlife and risk to property and life especially during this time of national crisis.”
”We recommend to always using registered waste carrier and to check for a permit, license or exemption. We are also urging the public to avoid being tempted to burn garden or household waste in these unprecedented times – what may have been intended to be just a small fire, or just a bit of fun, can quickly spread to become out of control. Please take responsibility – don’t fuel the fire.”