SEPA accuse litter campaigner of breaking the law

Litter collections by Pete Miners are 'unlawful'
SEPA say that litter collections by Pete Miners could lead to his being reported for unlicensed activity

A MORAY CAMPAIGNER who spends hours combing beaches, river banks and countryside in the region has been accused of being “an accessory to waste deposits”.

Pete Miners is a well-known figure as he and his dog tour beauty spots around Moray collecting rubbish left by fly-tippers and left overs dumped by picnickers or washed down rivers such as the Lossie and Findhorn from Elgin and Forres.

Mr Miners is also well known to Moray Council, central government and environmental authorities whom he “advised” on the litter hot-spots in Moray, appealing for help in controlling the issue.

However, while Mr Miners might not always find his efforts welcomed by authorities even he had to be surprised at the latest letter he received from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), accusing him of being a part of the problem rather than someone seeking a solution to it!

In a recent letter a SEPA official referred to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, warning him: “Due to the above legislation it could be seen that you are an accessory to the waste deposits due to your well-intentioned but unauthorised collection and re-depositing of wastes.”

The letter pointed out that the collection and disposal of waste appearing on the coastline and on land under their control was a job solely for Moray Council, while wastes deposited on private land become the responsibility of the landowner who “must take steps to remove the waste and take such measures as to secure the area”.

Mr Miners was surprised then to read a warning from SEPA who added: “You should be aware that if another member of the general public, or an authorised person representing a legal authority was to witness you depositing the wastes that you have been collecting, then it is possible that you could be reported for carrying out the unlicensed activity.”

Litter campaigners from throughout the UK were stunned when they read the letter posted by Mr Miners on the popular Facebook page ‘litteraction’, many pointing out that the advice could effectively apply to every group around the country who regularly run organised litter clean-ups in their local community.

Fiona Yuill from Falkirk said: “This doesn’t surprise me at all – it is a pity they don’t take such action against the idiots who dump the stuff in the first place.

“I think Pete should take their advice and ask everyone who currently does voluntary litter picks in this area to stop doing so for a short while, and each person should report every bit of litter they see to the council and to SEPA. It would be interesting to see what action (if any) would be taken by them.”

Last week insideMoray reported Moray Council’s complaint that Mr Miners “tends to deposit the accumulated material in places that are inaccessible and which council vehicles and collection crews are unable to reach” – although they did commend the campaigner for his community-spirited actions.

Mr Miners said: “I’m not exclusively on the Council’s case about it, but I believe the situation lacks a central coordinator, which would logically be the council, even if they farmed the work out to others.

“It does sadly seem that sporadic reports from members of the public like me can disappear into the ether – and they are not big on feedback.”

Responding to Moray Council insisting they could not pick up every piece of litter he added: “I cannot reconcile that attitude with the aims of Zero Waste Scotland – they should surely be at least aiming to have every item picked up.”