Fly-tipping: satellite technology to the rescue?
Fly-tipping has been on the rise in recent years , reaching unprecedented levels, but now researchers think they might have found a solution to the problem: satellite imaging.
Cases of fly-tipping, otherwise known as illegal dumping, have risen in England for the third year in a row. The increase has been blamed on council cuts to waste collection services.
The increase in illegal dumping has been described as an 'epidemic', with no sign of it waning. Everything from unwanted white goods to old sofas and building materials are being dumped both in towns and cities and in the countryside.
Now, researchers are hoping the new 'Spy in the Sky' satellite technology will help councils locate waste sites, while acting as a deterrent to would-be fly-tippers.
Ray Harris, a retired geography professor contributing to the development of this technique, said of it: "It doesn't tell us where every single waste site is, it just narrows down the possibilities.
"We're looking for a needle in a haystack but we're trying to get rid of the haystack and that reveals where the needle might be."
Legitimate skip hire and waste collection businesses are also suffering as a result of fly-tippers, with some fly-tippers even dumping rubbish on legal waste sites.
The Environment Agency is hoping the technology can be used in such a way as to deter the activities of fly-tippers, which currently cost the UK in the region of £1 billion per year.
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