A unique project has seen £300,000 worth of fly-tip clearance achieved for just £60,000 over the past four years in South Holland and Boston borough.
Operation Fly Swat is a joint partnership approach to dealing with fly-tipped rubbish involving local authorities, drainage boards, the Environment Agency, housing associations... and a prison!
Boston Borough Council oversees the scheme, which extends into South Holland, and the costs are kept down by using free manpower from HM Prison North Sea Camp.
The scheme doesn’t take advantage of chain-gang prisoners. Those who work in the supervised fly-tip team are volunteers risk assessed for suitability, they are prisoners nearing the end of their sentences and due for release and they benefit from developing a work ethic, paying back to society and developing skills and qualifications which may be useful to them in the outside world.
Fly tipping is a serious issue in the Fenland flatlands of south Lincolnshire. In the vegetable garden of England much is top grade agricultural land reclaimed from the sea and national food security is of prime importance.
The land remains massively productive thanks to a complex network of drainage channels ensuring fields do not revert to natural fen and marsh. The ditches, drains, rivers and their associated sluices and pumping stations also ensure the residential population and commercial and industrial interests keep their feet dry.
HM Prison North Sea Camp is located out on the marshland on a 500-acre parcel of reclaimed land.
Sadly the isolated nature of many of these drainage channels makes them prime dumping ground for fly tippers. And dumped rubbish can cause blockages and damage to pumps which can lead to flooding.
Boston Borough Council’s waste services team and environmental crime team work with the prison to draw up a daily work plan so the Fly Swat team can visit dumping hot spots.
They have received training and have the necessary equipment to remove the rubbish and transfer it for correct disposal, including recycling. Searches are also made for identifying evidence leading to the culprits.
Other agencies, the four drainage boards which cover the area and the Environment Agency in particular, have recognised the benefits of having a permanent fly-tip squad on patrol at a time of acute financial pressure.
Partners, who contribute to the cost of provision of a vehicle and equipment and administration are: Boston Borough Council (lead authority responsible for operational and administrative supervision, collection depot, health and safety checks and training), HM Prison North Sea Camp, South Holland District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Environment Agency, Black Sluice, Witham Fourth, Welland and Deepings and South Holland Internal Drainage Boards, Longhurst and Havelok and Mayflower Housing Associations.
In the past three years hundreds of tonnes of fly tipped rubbish has been collected at a recorded 4,978 jobs.
For the period 01/01/2015 to 31/12/2015 the Fly Swat squad dealt with:
234 single items, 158 car boot loads, 303 small van loads, 159 large van loads, 43 tipper lorry loads and 14 significant multiple loads
The contents included animal carcasses, black bags, commercial, construction and clinical waste, white goods, other electrical items, green waste, tyres and vehicle parts.