People living in one part of the Halton region could be fined hundreds of pounds if they fall for false Facebook adverts offering to remove their waste for cheap.
Fines are on the way for people in Halton who pay a ‘man-with-a-van’ to remove bulky items of rubbish, only for it to be fly-tipped and then traced back to them.
A growing criminal industry of illegitimate waste companies advertised on social media has led to a huge rise in fly-tipping cases across the country – and Halton has seen some of the worst of it.
Windmill Hill Wood in Runcorn has been named and shamed as one of the worst areas in the country for fly-tipping by the National Woodland Trust.
In September, the Liverpool Echo exposed a secret rubbish dump under the Mersey Gateway Bridge, where household items had been abandoned on an industrial scale.
Residents have complained that a “crack-down” on fly-tipping in the borough has not worked, and have called on their local authority to take stronger enforcement action.
Halton Borough Council’s environmental officers say most waste is not actually fly-tipped by the individual who owns it, and the proposed new enforcement powers will address this issue.
A report on the proposals states: “Reducing the flow of household waste to unauthorised carriers or irresponsible individuals will help the Council in its efforts to reduce incidents of fly-tipping or other illegal waste disposal practices. ”
Members of the environmental board have suggested the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) be set at £400 for anyone in Halton caught breaching household waste ‘duty of care’ regulations.
Until recently, the only option for local authorities to address breaches of the duty of care Regulations was to take the offender to court, where fines of up to £5000 could be issued.
New regulations were introduced in November 2018 which allows FPNs to be issued as an alternative to prosecution.
£400 is the maximum amount any local authority can charge for the offence under government legislation, which sets the default amount at £200.
Environmental officers say £400 is justified because it would “send a message to strongly encourage householders to ensure that they meet their legal obligations.”
It is also the same amount that can be charged for fly-tipping offences.
However, the report states enforcement action is not the “primary intention” of the new legislation, adding the council will aim to make residents aware of their legal obligations in the first instance.
The report says: “There are an increasing number of individuals offering services to take away waste and provide ‘tip runs’, particularly on social
“It is vitally important that the Council does all it can to ensure that householders are fully aware of their duty of care requirements to help them avoid falling victim to fly tippers, and running the risk of action being taken against them as result.”
The proposals are set to go before the environment committee next Wednesday, after which they will be passed onto the Executive Board for approval.