How should we punish people who fly tip?
This question has become a hot topic in Peterborough lately where fly tipping and littering are as bad as we’ve ever seen them.
Fly tipping makes areas of natural beauty ugly.
Fly tipped waste also magically attracts yet more fly tipping.
Leave a fridge on a street and before you can dial 01733 747474 it will have been joined by a roll of carpet and a set of kitchen cupboards.
If you’re fortunate enough to have no fly tipping hotspots near you, pop along to the stunning Ferry Milton Bridge in Ferry Meadows and exit the park onto Ferry Hill.
Peterborough Green Party recently did a litter pick of this area.
It is one of the worst places in the city for littering and flytipping.
We ran a Twitter poll to find out why you believe people fly tip. You told us, overwhelmingly, that it’s because they are lazy.
Laziness may account for much of the mess we encounter, but some of the items we find dumped in woodland could only have got there with a van and a great deal of effort.
We suspect that unwillingness or inability to pay the council’s £23.50 charge to take large items may also be a factor.
Catching the culprits is difficult, but not impossible.
As reported in the PT earlier this month, one fly tipper from Peterborough was sent to prison for a week having been found guilty of dumping a freezer in Northamptonshire countryside.
The accused admitted he knew it was wrong.
Some people agree that prison is a just punishment for those who habitually spoil our environment with fly tipping.
Others say that big fines are the answer.
The trouble is, neither of these punishments seem to act as deterrents.
Sending people to prison is expensive. According to Prisoner Focus Education, it costs £65,000 to imprison a person once police, court costs and all other steps are taken into account and a further £40,000 for every year spent incarcerated.
Surely the most effective punishment for fly tippers is a revoked driving licence and a highly visible stretch of community service, clearing up the areas that even the city council is reluctant to touch, such as Ferry Hill.
Peterborough Green Party organises two hours of litter picking every month.
We recently arranged a pick at Lynchwood Business Park where we were joined by a class of four-year-olds. Fly tipping makes no sense to a four-year-old. Try explaining to a small child the logic of dumping a broken TV in the woods.
Our most recent pick was along Wistow Way, Orton Wistow, where we collected 10 bags of rubbish.
Imagine how much litter and fly tip someone serving 200 hours of community service would remove.
Litter picking is weirdly addictive.
Do it often enough and you will find it almost impossible to walk past litter without picking it up, while the appetite for dropping litter or fly tipping has been known to disappear altogether.