Action is being taken to clean up a mountain of rubbish and human waste dumped by the canal in Market Harborough.
Harborough District Council is acting in a bid to eradicate the ugly fly-tipping eyesore on the banks of the historic Grand Union Canal after staging crunch talks with “key stakeholders”.
The council is slapping two special notices on the Canal & River Trust and four notices on the owners of two plots at the Greenacres travellers’ site warning them to tidy up the land now.
If they fail to carry out the work and clear up the countryside they face being fined up to £1,000.
And the council could then send in a works team to do the job themselves – before billing the culprits for the cost.
The authority is getting tough after the fly-tipping “scandal” has been slammed in the Harborough Mail over the last few weeks by outraged local residents and angry outdoors campaigners.
Moves are being stepped up to get rid of the pile of rubbish tipped by the canal after Harborough council, Canal & Rivers Trust, police, Environment Agency and the county council’s Multi Agency Traveller Unit attended a pivotal remote meeting.
“We held a very productive meeting on Friday with the key stakeholders around the virtual table to find a positive and robust resolution to issues around the Greenacres site.
“It was agreed at the meeting that the district council will serve legal notices relating to the land with the aim of securing the clean-up of the land,” a Harborough council spokeswoman told the Harborough Mail.
“Harborough District Council has issued a Section 215 Untidy Land notice to parties with an interest in the land.
“This notice requires proper maintenance of the land in question and specifies what steps need to be taken over a specified period to secure its clean-up.
“Section 215 Untidy Land notices have been served to the Canal & River Trust and owners/occupiers of two plots on Greenacres Caravan Park.
“Six Section 215 notices have been served in total.”
She said they will meet up again in May to establish if the rubbish has been taken away and the beauty spot cleaned up.
“We plan to hold a future meeting with key stakeholders in around two months’ time to review progress with this,” said the council spokeswoman.
“This is in line with the legal timescale that parties have to respond to a Section 215 notice.”
A Canal & River Trust spokesman told the Mail they were served the Section 215 notices in “error”, claiming the council had got it wrong.
“We were served the notice in error as the council believed us to own the land in question when we don’t,” he insisted.
“We clarified this with them at the meeting on Friday and they now accept that we don’t own that section of land and aren’t responsible for cleaning up the mess.”
But the council spokeswoman retorted: “Two notices have been issued to the Canal & River Trust.
“A month ago the Canal & River Trust was served a Section 330 notice requesting information as to ownership of land.
“The Section 215 notice, served on Friday March 12, was issued in line with the legal process by which notices must be served to all parties with a possible interest in the land.
“An ‘interest’ does not need to be tenancy or ownership of the land.
“For example, the proximity of the canal to the land on which the fly-tipping is taking place and the impact of the waste on the canal makes the Canal & River Trust a party with a possible interest.”
The Canal & River Trust spokesman added: “It was a productive meeting on Friday and it was a useful opportunity to clarify our ownership and responsibilities in that area.
“We’re pleased that action is now being taken against those responsible.
“And we hope that this will not only see the current mess cleaned up but prevent similar instances happening in the future.
“The canal is such a beautiful place and it’s really sad to see it being abused in this way, spoiling the enjoyment of local people.”
Another fly-tip created near Leicester Road and The Innovation Centre near the entrance to the Greenacres site on the northern outskirts of Market Harborough was also discussed at the meeting.
“This is not covered by the notices that have been served,” said the council spokeswoman.
The action kickstarted is being backed by Open Spaces outdoors activist Peter Pollak.
Peter, 75, who took these pictures of rubbish stacked up by the canal, said: “At last we are getting somewhere!
“It’s taken long enough.
“The council and other agencies now appear to be heading in the right direction after coming under pressure.
“This despicable blot on the landscape is an absolute disgrace.
“There is absolutely no excuse for dumping all sorts of domestic and building rubbish, as well as human waste, by this glorious canal.
“The people behind this are being totally irresponsible – and they deserve to be punished if they don’t clean this up now,” said Peter, of Farndon Fields, Market Harborough.
“Fly-tippers are wrecking our beautiful countryside.
“This horrible eyesore reflects very badly on Market Harborough as well as threatening health and safety – and endangering our wildlife.
“The council now has to make sure that this rubbish is removed.
“And they have got to keep a close eye and police these tipping blackspots to stop these eco crimes being carried out in future.”