Local Thames21 staff and volunteers have recently been tackling two ugly fly-tipping incidents adjacent to Thames Road Wetland, with a third yet to be sorted out. The second, and largest, of these might have been avoided had Bexley Council acted on appeals to sort out the insecure gate onto the wetland in the wake of a previous dumping event three and a half years ago.
In April a considerable quantity of household waste was dumped in the River Wansunt by the pipe bridge, just before it enters the wetland. This could easily have been taken to the official Council dump just over the road. Most sickeningly the material included pots of paint with the lids off, some of which had spilt into the water. There were a number of children’s toys in good condition, plus a large number of romantic fiction paperbacks, which could have found another home or been recycled. A piece of paper with a Maiden Lane, Crayford, address on it, was found in one of the bags of rubbish. All the material was removed to our usual collection point at the end of By-way 105 for the Council to take away.
In June a very large quantity of material was driven through the gate by the railway bridge, and along a track at the east end of the wetland – with the gate and first part of the track sitting on Bexley Council-owned land – and was then driven up and over the sewer pipe bank and dumped in the old pallet yard on unmanaged private land.
This included toys, plastic beads, hundreds of polystyrene fragments, good quality paving bricks, rubble and plastic bags. T21 has emptied some of the rubble onto existing piles as it is inert and can be used by reptiles. Some of the smaller items have been removed from the site but most still remains due to lack of time so far. It is not clear whether Bexley Council or the landowner are going to sort it out. The horrendous amount of plastic and polystyrene bits will require something like a car vacuum to remove.
Again an address was found in one of the bagged portions of rubbish, this time on a customer despatch note. The address is on Murchison Avenue, Bexley.
It should be noted that as TRW site manager I had asked Council fly-tipping officials (in writing) to sort out the gate security three and a half years ago, after a fly-tipping incident up on the sewer bank where a vehicle had again been used. There had clearly been several other fly-tipping events on the pallet yard prior to this. This the Council did not do, despite the vehicle having crossed its land and despite plastics blowing back onto the wetland land it owns. In the absence of any help from the Council, the whole pile of sewer bank material was removed in two sessions by a Thames21-led team of schoolchildren and a group of corporate volunteers.
Both the recent incidents have been reported to Bexley Council and the police, who have been given the addresses found. We have yet to hear that the individuals at those addresses have been contacted, or that any other progress has been made in tracking down the culprits. As of 27th July only Thames21 had removed any of the dumped material. However, on that morning someone had bolted up the gate so it couldn’t be opened, and had festooned it with ‘Police – do not cross’ tape, which is a start.
In other developments, some new pallets that had been dumped with the other rubbish have been cut up and turned into bug hotels but, unfortunately, some mindless individuals have dumped two shopping trolleys in the Wansunt where we removed the previous fly-tipping, and we have not yet got them out due to other commitments.
We would far rather be spending our time on habitat improvements and tackling invasive species, rather than being sidetracked by people who go out of their way to dump rubbish rather than dispose of it responsibly.
Chris Rose. Thames Road Site Manager, Thames21.