Monaro MP John Barilaro, centre, ACT Member for Ginninderra Yvette Berry, 2nd right and Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey, right, after surveying hot spots for illegal dumping from the sky as part of an ACT/NSW multi million dollar joint initiative. Photo: Georgina Connery
A joint ACT-NSW initiative to stamp out illegal rubbish dumping in the capital region is under way, but residents say injecting money into helicopter surveillance is a blue-sky campaign unlikely to solve the problem on the ground.
The three-year, $58million dollar statewide NSW government initiative in partnership with the ACT and local regional councils was launched last week with a chopper ride to view illegal dumping hot spots on the ACT/NSW boarder.
But Wallaroo resident Phyllis Flemming said she and other residents dealing with persistent dumping of dangerous and unsightly rubbish are getting the run-around.
"The helicopter isn't going to catch anyone doing it. Particularly if they are dumping at dusk or in the dark," she said.
Finding burnt out cars, household waste construction materials and furniture strewn in her neighbourhood, Ms Flemming said she diligently reports all of it to her local Yass Valley council representatives and to Canberra Connect but was frustrated at the way the organisations handballed responsibility.
"We were told initially that the agreement between Yass Valley council and TAMS was that the areas would be inspected weekly. But sometimes it stays there for months."
The newly appointed NSW Minister for Environment Rob Stokes said the introduction of stiff penalties for the crime would send a message to the judiciary about the government's intention to crackdown on this problem.
In the ACT, 11 infringements have been issued for illegal dumping since July 2012. But according to figures provided by TAMS, 3288 service requests were received both online and through the Canberra Connect Contact Centre in relation to the topic of litter and illegal dumping since April 2012.
Monaro MP John Barilaro echoed Mr Stokes' call for tougher action on the crime, and said the low rates of prosecution in the region would soon change.
"With this program over the next three years prosecutions are going to be a big part of it."
Ms Flemming said she was hopeful that a co-operative effort in the capital region would work, but said attention should be paid to the causes of the problem rather than chasing hard-to-find culprits.
She said reducing the price to dispose of rubbish at the tip, providing alternatives like a scheduled waste pick-up, or skips for afterhours drop-off when waste management facilities are closed were simple but would go a long way to stop dumping in suburban and bush land areas.
"The Old Belconnen tip closes at 4.45pm. They drive right past it to dump in areas around here. The ACT is trying to fix up a problem they have caused by overcharging and not having an afterhours waste facility," she said.