September 2014

BBC TV Watchdog Rogue Traders

BBC Rogue Traders looked at the people who don’t respect the British countryside and its cities – the fly-tippers.

Every year, we throw away enough stuff to fill 44 Wembley stadiums. This waste should end up in a legitimate waste disposal site, but a lot of it is ending up dumped illegally in the countryside and back streets of Britain. Fly-tipping happens in every county across Britain and costs us over £100million a year to clean up.

We took Becky French, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, to one London neighbourhood that receives over 6000 reports of fly-tipping every year. She told us about the extent of the problem and why it is such a big deal. To investigate fly-tipping, Rogue Traders went to Cardiff where they had a tip off for a prolific rubbish dumper.

He had been convicted in 2004 for tipping nine tonnes of waste on the streets of Cardiff. Is he still at it? To find out, we hired him to collect some rubbish from us.

We rigged a house with secret cameras and our researcher played the home owner. She planted a RedWeb tracker in the rubbish so we could follow it and see where it would end up. The fly-tipper came to collect the rubbish, which was already illegal since he didn’t have a waste carrier’s licence – a legal document issued by the Environment Agency that allows people to collect rubbish as a business. In fact, whenever you hire someone to collect rubbish for you, you should check they have one – if they don’t and your waste is fly-tipped you can be fined up to £5000.

You might think you’re saving money by getting a cheap service, but you could end up having to pay out thousands. He couldn’t fit all of our rubbish into his van so he had to make two trips. We started to track the first load via the RedWeb tracker and waited for him to return to collect the rest of the rubbish. When he came back and took the final load of junk – with another hidden tracker – the Rogue team followed the tracker signals again.

The first one led them to an industrial estate near the centre of the city. After some searching they found the rubbish in a skip. And it was someone else’s skip. A few minutes later the second tracker led them to Cardiff’s Roath district. As the team got closer they could see they had been fly- tipped down a residential back alley. We had been fly-tipped twice.

We wanted to confront him about his tipping and so we set up another house with another set of rubbish in the hope of enticing him out again. But this time we had a special surprise waiting for him – the Cardiff Arms Park Male Voice choir. Who better to remind him of the lyrical beauty of the Welsh valleys?

He turned up to collect the rubbish and as he started to load his van the choir began to sing to him. He looked very bewildered before being confronted by Matt who was dressed as a member of the choir. Matt told him that we had caught him fly-tipping but he denied it, stating that it wasn’t him and explained that he was taking the rubbish to a local tip. He then proceeded to unload the rubbish back onto the driveway and after a few more denials, he drove away.