I need to be a little circumspect here, in sharing this tale. Thirty years ago as a young professional when first I came to London to work the first Docklands construction boom was in full swing. We were doing works there that produced considerable amounts of demolition and excavation waste, and my first job was to find a haulage contractor for the 'muckaway' work. I did all the due diligence and found a licensed, certificated firm with a small fleet of tipper wagons offering rapid response and a very attractive rate. Soon they started moving sixty tonnes a day or so of soil and rubble, to general satisfaction.
What I didn't know at the time was the destination. It turned out they were fly-tipping the lot in a 4 mile radius from the other end of the Blackwall tunnel; for many south Londoners, the Docklands boom meant overnight piles of spoil appearing on every scrap of disused land. The firm's governor was nothing if not smart; he has since held great office in his City guild, is a Freeman of the City of London and is frequently now photographed in dinner suit with a chain of some sort over his shoulders. You see, he also had the contracts at the time with a number of south London councils for the removal of fly-tipped spoil.
It couldn't happen now, I thought, with every square inch of the Metropolis covered by CCTV cameras, but the Mail carries a salutory story about a rise in fly tipping; much, it seems, not commercial malpractice but household waste. Some of it, like the bicycle left at the bottle bank or the garden furniture atop a bus shelter are clearly attempts at recycling, but I think I know what's responsible for much of the rest. Ten or fifteen years ago, a household skip was a fairly good-value service, costing about a hundred quid all-in. Today in London you'd be hard pushed to get a 6yd skip for under £250, and face a Council 'license' fee of at least £50 on top. Visits to the Council dump are rationed and regulated. So people do exactly as you'd expect - they fly-tip for free. And the more that Councils charge, the greater the volume of fly tips.