Outrage over 'industrial scale fly-tipping scandal' – including human waste – on the edge of Harborough
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A furious storm has blown up over an “industrial scale fly-tipping scandal” – including human waste – being carried out by the canal yards from a travellers’ site on the edge of Market Harborough.
Outraged residents have hit out after a “mini-mountain” of household and building rubbish has been dumped and piled up by the Greenacres site on Leicester Road to the north of the town.
An angry woman and a man, who both live close to the well-established caravan park, independently came to the Harborough Mail pleading for help after “repeatedly getting nowhere” with Harborough council and other public agencies.
After hearing their stories, Cllr Phil King, the leader of the district council, has vowed to “get everybody together and sort out this horrendous eco-crisis once and for all”.
A mum, who was too frightened to give her name, told the Mail: “This fly-tipping is just disgusting – it’s absolutely revolting.
“It’s an out and out scandal.
“It’s happening on an industrial scale – and it’s been like this for months and months.
“I am sick and tired of hitting my head off a brick wall trying to get this horrific mess cleaned up – and the tipping stopped altogether.
“We’re getting desperate now.
“So I’ve come to the Harborough Mail to try to end this horror show now because we’re at the end of our tether.”
Spelling out the huge scale of the problem, she said: “Human faeces is being thrown over the fence and down the canal banks.
“Human waste is also being left under the nearby bridge inches from the water as boats sail up and down and dog walkers stroll past.
“Some of this is making its way into the canal itself – and obviously poses a terrible threat to health.
“The stench, as you can imagine, is horrible – even in the winter.
“It’s toxic – and the rats are loving it.
“Metal rods, fencing panels, rubble and domestic rubbish is also being hurled down the banks and on to the towpath.
“I’ve been walking along there at times and actually seen it hurtling down.
“The sick people who are doing this are wrecking what is a genuine beauty spot.
“They are destroying our magnificent countryside.
“We all suffer because of their ignorance, arrogance and blatant disregard for our fantastic environment,” she said.
“Dumping rubbish on this scale has a massive impact.
“It kills local wildlife, threatens our flora and fauna and is devastating the Grand Union Canal as well.
“It’s heartbreaking to watch it happen in front of our very eyes.”
Slamming the “appalling response” of local authorities, she declared: “I’ve spoken to Harborough council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency and our MP. And I’ve got nowhere. No one wants to know.
A man who regularly walks his dog along that stretch of the historic nationally-renowned canal told the Mail: “This has been going on for up to 25 years – but it’s got worse over the last few months.
“How lazy and stupid is to chuck your waste over the fence rather than put it in the bin and dispose of it properly as the rest of us do?
“The time for turning a blind eye to this outrageous behaviour has long gone.
“We all need to live by the rules in a civilised society.
“This shocking crime against our environment in our own back yard reflects very badly on Market Harborough.
“And it will be a poisonous stain on our town until it is cleaned away and the culprits stopped for good.”
Cllr King told the Mail: “This situation is horrendous – and totally unacceptable.
“Human waste seeping into the canal poses a terrifying danger to health and hygiene.
“I feel the pain of the people who have contacted the paper.
“Now we have to sit down with all the stakeholders and hammer out a permanent solution.”
The Conservative council chief added: “There is no excuse for this sort of fly-tipping.
“We have to make it clear to the minority of travellers at the Greenacres site the impact that their behaviour is having.
“We don’t want to tar all of the travellers with the same brush.
“But the culprits clearly need public health education.
“And there’s no doubt that they will face financial penalties if they persist.”
A Harborough District Council spokesman said: “Littering like this is not acceptable.
“Regular clear-ups have taken place by the relevant authorities but, in recent months, this has stopped.
“On Thursday 4 February 2021, the council issued S330 notices (requesting information from the land occupier/owners of land) to two adjoining Gypsy/Traveller pitches on the Greenacres site, as well as those listed as landowners on the Land Registry, and the Canal and Rivers Trust to establish who is responsible for land.
“Failure to respond to this notice, without reasonable excuse, is an offence.
“Further enforcement action is also being considered.”
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien said: “The scale of fly-tipping there is entirely unacceptable.
“The amount of waste on this site is something that needs to be sorted out now.
“It is disgusting and unsightly.
“I have raised this with the Canal & River Trust and Harborough District Council and I understand the council is looking at all its options.”
A Canal & River Trust spokesman said: “We absolutely share the disgust about the state of the canal bank at Greenacres.
“It’s in a shocking condition and it must be appalling for people that want to enjoy some relaxing time by the water.
“We too are angry that the canal is being harmed in this way.
“But, as this stretch of canal bank is not owned by the Canal & River Trust, there’s little we can do to resolve the problem ourselves.
“However, we very much want to be a part of the solution as this is really spoiling people’s enjoyment of the canal.”
He added: “It will be clear to anyone visiting or seeing the photos that the clean-up of the bank will be a significant operation involving a number of different organisations.
“In particular it will require specialist support to work closely with the local community to not only get the canal bank cleaned up but, importantly, to prevent it getting in that state again.
“We’re genuinely sorry that there are no quick resolutions to the problem and we hope that people will understand that this isn’t a case of passing the buck.
“We’re as frustrated as anyone at the state of the canal bank and are committed to working with all the relevant parties to try and get it resolved.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Fly-tipping blights communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment.
“It can have serious environmental impacts which puts communities at risk and undermine legitimate business and the investment and economic growth that go with it.
“Local authorities investigate smaller scale instances of fly-tipping and the Environment Agency investigates larger scale deposits.
“In relation to the fly-tipped material opposite the Greenacres traveller site, the local authority and council are leading on this with the support of others when needed.”