A radical approach is being taken in a bid to reduce fly-tipping as the council look to install spy cameras to catch dumpers in the act.
Falkirk Council previously used this type of technology in the past decade and has decided it is once again needed to curb the mounting litter and waste which is blighting communities.
Walk down any street, town centre or playpark in this district and beyond and you will find litter strewn across roads and paths, housing estates and public spaces. The unsightly issue is a priority for the council’s Community Safety teams which dealt with 13 litter complaints in the last quarter of last year.
To highlight how litter is treated and how much it costs taxpayers – each complainer received a call back and a patrol of the area to identify the level of littering was carried out to determine what further action was required.
Just two £80 fixed penalty notices were issued, a statistic which has perhaps contributed to the decision to invest in a new approach to prevent people dumping or throwing their rubbish away instead of disposing of it properly.
The council has also brought back a free bulky uplift for each household per year by setting aside £300,000 from next year’s budget, which will inevitably help reduce the amount of fly-tipping.
In addition, digital technology will be used to monitor the amount of litter people drop in bins in town centres and other public areas such as parks, path networks and outside shops.
Councillor Jim Blackwood said: “The blight of littering and fly-tipping is a scar on our proud communities. There is no excuse to dump and we are committed to stamp this behaviour out.
“The use of these cameras will catch those that think they can get away with dumb dumping. The increased capacity of litter bins will help the public dispose of litter properly.
“The installation of the sensors will help the council to ensure when the bins fill up they are emptied quickly.”
A council spokesperson said: “The aim of the cameras is to add to the council’s Community Safety Team function and give them the ability to discreetly place cameras at locations that have been identified as fly-tipping hot spots.
“This will allow us to catch and prosecute individuals that fly-tip across the Falkirk Council area. The council is committed to stamping out this illegal behaviour for the benefit of our communities.”
To keep on top of litter, the sensors will be placed in public bins that will alert the local authority when they are full, which will prevent bins from overflowing, as well as enable the council to target resources to areas where it is collecting more waste.
The spokesperson added: “Our wardens operate a zero tolerance approach; every time someone is seen littering, for example, dropping a cigarette end, they will be issued with a fine. If unpaid they are referred to the Sheriff officers.
“Over the next few months we will be reviewing the litter bin provision to make it easier for people to make the right decision with litter.
“This will see the small pole mounted bins being replaced with larger standard litter bins where space permits. In addition to this we will be fitting bin sensors into litter bins that sends us real-time information as to how full the litter bins are and how often they fill. The aim of this project is for us to monitor the bins to ensure that we can identify the correct collection frequency of litter bins.
“This will ensure that we make the collection more efficient and target the scarce resources to bins that are filling up on a more frequent basis. It will also give us daily reports so if a bin unusually fills up quickly we can action as a priority.”
Education is another strategy employed by the teams and there are a host of ways they are trying to cut down on litter in the district. The council’s Young Community Team involves a class to show schoolchildren the impact of antisocial behaviour and how the issues are dealt with.
Staff work with partner organisations such Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste and volunteer groups attending and providing equipment for litter picks to help communities get involved.
Keep Scotland Beautiful chief executive Derek Robertson said: “Keep Scotland Beautiful reported in 2016 that, for the first time in ten years, Scotland’s local environmental quality is in decline. Local councils are striving to meet and raise standards in the face of cutbacks and adverse circumstances, but this alone is not enough.
“We need strong leadership and intervention and for people to show respect for their own environment and change their littering behaviours. Scotland cannot continue to neglect such an important issue.”
Falkirk’s Business Improvement District (BID) Falkirk Delivers ran a successful campaign with funding from Zero Waste Scotland designed to change people’s attitude to litter with the hashtag #RespectTheStreet.
During the campaign a survey showed 31 per cent of people asked felt fast food packaging was the worst, or “most offensive” type of litter, while 49 per cent felt it is the responsibility of the individual to keep streets clean.
A survey showed that pedestrian and individual litter was still the most common source of litter within the BID area, recorded in 88 per cent of all the areas audited.
Assistant BID manager Sarah McKenzie said: “We hope that this campaign will encourage town centre users’ to love their town and discard litter in the appropriate means.”
To report litter call free phone 0808 100 3161.