Landfill charges not behind illegal dumping: council

Rubbish is piling up in quiet corners of Dunedin as illegal dumpers discard household rubbish, green waste and even animal carcasses around the city.

However, the Dunedin City Council is defending its strict new approach to landfill fees, despite warnings the tough line could encourage more illegal dumping.

Instead, council solid waste manager Ian Featherston urged those considering dumping rubbish illegally to do the right thing, saying they risked potentially hefty fines as well as damage to the city's image.

His comments came after the council last month told its contractor to stop a long-running practice of lowering prices for less-than-full cars and trailers arriving at the city's landfill and transfer stations.

The change meant prices had, in some cases, nearly doubled, prompting complaints from those worried more people could take matters into their own hands.

The Otago Daily Times took a drive yesterday and, in little more than an hour, counted 20 individual piles of household rubbish and green waste dumped on the side of the road.

Most dump sites were found beside Flagstaff-Whare Flat Rd, near Three Mile Hill Rd, but piles of rubbish were also found in Leith Valley Rd and Burma Rd, in the city's green belt.

Most of the material appeared to be garden clippings and other green waste, but black rubbish bags and plastic bags full of material were also found, as well as discarded cardboard crates and empty alcohol bottles.

The most disturbing find was the discarded carcass of an animal, its decomposed rib cage protruding from the bush, surrounded by rubbish bags, beside Flagstaff-Whare Flat Rd.

Some of the material appeared to have been discarded some time ago, but other piles had been dumped recently.

However, Mr Featherston told the ODT the finds did not point to an increase in illegal dumping since the new approach to landfill fees was introduced last month.

There was also usually an increase in illegal dumping over the holiday period, when the council was less able to respond quickly, he said.

The areas visited by the ODT were also ''well-known dumping places'' spread over a wide area, he said.

''It's probably a bit of a build-up,'' he said.

He urged people to ''act responsibly'' or risk tarnishing the city's image in the eyes of tourists.

''I'm sure most people down here actually treasure the environment ... Having a lot of rubbish dumped around the place is not a good look for the city.''

However, he warned the council also had the power to issue infringement notices and individual offenders could be fined up to $7500 under the Litter Act.

Bigger penalties were also available for those who dumped commercial waste, and prosecutions were an option for more serious offences, he said.

The council relied on the public and contractors to report problems, and people had phoned in with the registration numbers of vehicles used when offenders were dumping illegally in the past, he said.

As a result, infringement notices had been issued, including a batch of about six $100 fines - with 28 days to pay - sent out by the council just before Christmas, he said.

His comments came after tip users, including Sue Tielkes, of Belleknowes, expressed concern at the high fees last week, warning they could encourage illegal dumping.

Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall agreed, saying: ''I think we can, sadly, expect to see more.''

Waikouaiti Coast Community Board chairman Gerard Collings defended the charges as necessary, and hoped people would ''do the right thing''.

Mr Featherston said the public criticism would not change the council's stance in the meantime, as the fees were set by councillors and it would be up to them to consider any changes.

The fees were based on average loads by vehicle type, and if the contractor had enforced them properly in the past, ''we may have been able to bring the prices down'', he said.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Who does the Council work for?

The Council seem to forget who they actually work for, of course the illegal dumping is because of the increased costs to dump waste.

Perhaps we all need to start dumping our waste in the Octagon outside the Municipal Chambers,  then they might start listening!

Right about the booth-staff

"The booth guy was doing it more or less right - exercising some discretion."  True, murray4nz.  Not the first time I've found commonsense from the "underlings" contrasting strongly with concrete between the ears of the higher ranks.

the poor bloke in the booth

The booth guy was doing it more or less right - exercising some discretion. The idea of paying the full price when one has hardly anything one's trailer is outrageous.  The main problem is the charges are not fair.  What Council should do is what they have done in many other cities and that is charge by weight - get another weighbridge.  I feel sorry for the booth person having to face the daily wrath of irate customers over a unfair charging reigme.  The concept of a van or ute being the same price as a van plus a trailer is a bit rich.  As a business we come loaded to the max every time (Ute plus a caged trailer) and we make sure we have 50% greenwaste on board to get the recycle fee making the trip slightly more palatable ($30 instead of $46).  I feel for those that cannot come to the landfill like this.

What the skip-man said

It is his job delivering skips then taking them to the landfill.  By the way their costs have rocketed too.  He reported seeing many private vehicle drivers arrive with stuff to dispose of, then turn around when they were told how much it would cost.  I wonder where they are storing their rubbish - under the bed?  Must be, because  I am sure they are all taking to heart this encouragement to pay an ever-increasing proportion of their barely-increasing income to the DDC:  "council solid waste manager Ian Featherston urged those considering dumping rubbish illegally to do the right thing."

illegal dumping

"Mr Featherston said the public criticism would not change the
council's stance"

Sorry but they are a public service what people ie the voters want should be taken into consideration.  I agree illegal dumping is due to the cost as othes have said if the rates were lower there would be less dumping.

rubbish

Your readers and ratepayer have it right.

Council arrogant, blind, we could use the stadium as a tip maybe it would return more.

Gee what a surprise.

Gee what a surprise!

It has every thing to do with the ludicrous cost of disposing of waste!

Of course the council will not admit this is a result of hefty price hikes.

$20.00 to dump a a bag of green waste because of the fact you pull up in a station wagon is day light robbery. Just saying!!!

Waste

This aside - if there is an intention to go to zero waste then we must educate the vendors we buy from to stop wrapping needed goods with polystyrene and plastics.

Grocery stores are the worst offenders.

High tip fees

What an arrogant and stupid comment from the council, of course it's because of the high tip fees I will probably do the same becuse there is no way I will pay the extortionate fees. 

Because of the high cost

We have no immediate plans to ever go back to the landfill. Have a big pile of green waste on our property which were were eventually planning to take to the tip, but that plan got canned as soon as the article came out mentioning how high the prices are now.

So will just have to keep annoying my neighbours while the pile gets bigger and bigger.

DCC are blind as bats if they think they'll get more 'customers' (or keep the same amount) with the price hike.

Personally I'd rather a rates increase than these stupid prices, and funnily enough they would likely get a whole lot more people going back to the tip again...

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