SEPA combats illegal flytipping in Fort William

date01 February 2018

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has responded to complaints of persistent flytipping at an illegal site in Fort William and is working with the local community to address the problem.

On Monday 29 January, officers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s Waste Crime Team led a multi-agency response involving SEPA, Police Scotland and Highland Council, to investigate, and help address, flytipping at an illegal site at Mount Alexander, Camaghael, Fort William.

Building and construction materials are among the various types of waste that have been accumulating at the illegal site in Camaghael for a considerable time. It is evident that tradesmen in the area are persistently dumping waste materials at the site to avoid paying the cost of disposal at legitimate waste management sites. This is clearly for financial gain, with complete disregard for the law and the possible environmental consequences.

Visually, the illegal site is sharply at odds with the nearby areas of natural beauty. With stunning views of Ben Nevis, its location beside the River Lochy, popular for salmon fishing, is close to one of Scotland’s most picturesque walking trails, the Great Glen Way (which connects Fort William with Inverness) along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal.

Remediation work for the site would undoubtedly incur significant costs and SEPA estimates that this could be as much as £50,000, depending on the types of waste involved. To deter further flytipping, SEPA is currently working with the local community to seek solutions for restricting access to the site.

To help address the flytipping problem, SEPA is working with Police Scotland to undertake road stops in the Fort William area to ensure that anyone carrying ‘controlled waste’ is a registered waste carrier with the appropriate permits in place. Enforcement action will be undertaken if or as required, and this can include the issue of a Fixed Monetary Penalty of £300 or even prosecution.

SEPA officers are also visiting local businesses to gather information, check permits and reinforce the responsibilities and obligations that apply to anyone producing, carrying or managing waste. Information Notices will be issued to any businesses who are unable to provide details of how they are disposing of their waste. All households and businesses produce waste and most types of business waste are classed as ‘controlled waste’. Controlled waste includes commercial, industrial and household waste.

We all have a legal responsibility to ensure that we produce, store, transport and dispose of controlled waste without harming the environment. This is called our ‘duty of care’ and it means we need to ensure that only licensed professionals handle our waste. SEPA maintains an online register of licensed waste carriers and brokers enabling the public or businesses to check and ensure that contractors are sufficiently compliant.

In an attempt to harness the support of the local community, SEPA is working with the Highland Council and local media outlets to try to raise public awareness of the flytipping problem and the actions that we can take to prevent it.

SEPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Terry A’Hearn, said:

“Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment.  Compliance is not optional and tackling illegal waste management activities is one of our major priorities.

“It is a criminal offense to illegally dispose of waste, with firm obligations on the waste producer to ensure their waste is managed by a SEPA registered waste carrier at a fully-licensed site.  In addition, there are significant penalties for traders or business moving or disposing of waste illegally, as well as clean-up costs for landowners who’s sites are used for illegal disposal.

“Illegal dumping happens in both rural and urban areas and clearing it up costs Scottish local authorities more than £2.5 million each year. It also undermines legitimate waste businesses, where illegal operators undercut those operating within the law.

“Our actions in Fort William will help to raise awareness of the issue of flytipping and hopefully encourage the local community to help make the activity socially unacceptable.

“Local communities can help us to end the selfish, criminal flytipping behaviours that blight our land.

“If you suspect flytipping is being carried out, or to report illegal traders, calling the Dumb Dumpers Stopline on 0845 2 30 40 90 or by completing a form on the website.”

Sergeant Ewan Calder of the Police Scotland Road Policing Unit in Fort William, said:

"Flytipping, particularly large household items on the street spoils the look of an area and can become a target for wilful fire raising and other associated criminality.

"We would urge the public to use the waste collection services the local authority offers and to dispose of unwanted items responsibly.

"During this operation we will be working in partnership with SEPA to deter fly tipping and to take action against anyone found to be committing any waste management related offences.

"If anyone sees fly tipping in their area, we would urge them to report it to us or SEPA at the time or as soon as possible, along with any descriptions of people or vehicles used, including make, model and registration if possible.

"Fly tipping is an offence and anyone detected of this crime will be charged and reported. We work with partners from local authorities and SEPA to deal with the matter."

Local Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee said:

“Highland Council welcome’s SEPA’s campaign against illegal flytipping in Fort William. There is no excuse for flytipping anywhere in our region as Highland Council provides 21 recycling centres across the Highlands including one in Fort William at Claggan. It’s particularly disappointing that this site at Mount Alexander is being persistently targeted with illegal trade waste.”

Local Cllr Ben Thompson added:

“We urge local people not to accept cheap quotes for building or construction works as often behind that cost cutting can be criminality and illegal dumping like this. At the end of the day, it is Highland Council Tax payers who are bearing the cost of the Council having to clean up and send Environmental Health Officers to investigate and that is money spent that could be used elsewhere by the Council. We urge anyone who witnesses illegal dumping to report it to the Dumb Dumpers Stopline.”



Notes to editors

  • Dumb Dumpers is the national public reporting tool for flytipping in Scotland originally set up by the Scottish Flytipping Forum. If a reported incident is on-going, is believed to be a hazardous nature or is near a watercourse, the information will be passed to SEPA or Police Scotland as appropriate. If the incident is not urgent or the waste concerned is non-hazardous, the information will be passed to the local authority for investigation. For more information, visit

  • For further information about waste regulations, visit the SEPA web site.