Fly tipping is a problem in rural Spain especially in woodland areas where rubble and building materials are often offloaded even though there may be a facility to accept such materials nearby.
Living in rural Spain is something we are grateful for every day, the landscape is fantastic, we have wooded hillsides and green belt 100 yards away from the front door, the weather is, let’s say favourable most days and the overlanding opportunities are endless.
Nowhere is perfect however and one thing that spoils the area in general is rubbish. I don’t know why but there seems to be a general concensus that dumping rubble and hardcore left over from a building job seems to be acceptable if you tip it far enough into the woods.
[ALL IMAGES ON THIS PAGE WERE TAKEN WITHIN 200 YDS OF EACH OTHER – UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, RURAL GRANADA ]
Fly tipping is an issue in any country, I remember fly tipping issues in the North of England many years ago so Spain is not unique but there does seem to be a different approach towards mess and keeping the place tidy, at the risk of being shot down I would even say that Spain is untidy… A comment that has always remained with me which was very similar was mentioned to me back in 2004 when we crossed the border from France into Spain – the difference between the two countries from a tidyness and cleanliness point of view was immediatly noticeable.
“there seems to be a general concensus that dumping rubble and hardcore left over from a building job seems to be acceptable if you tip it far enough into the woods.”
So how bad is the fly tipping? Considering our local village has a population of less than a thousand it’s pretty bad considering that most of the tipping is done by individuals that actually live here [although this is not always the case]. In the main it is piles of building materials that are tipped in the woods, bricks covered in plaster, cement hard core and metal work, the yeso [plaster] stands out like a sore thumb as it’s white.
The woodland that surrounds many villages in the Altiplano region have numerous trails, single track dirt roads that snake through the trees, join up, end nowhere and take you places you didn’t even know where there, they are all ultimately the ideal place to go and dump your rubbish with out getting noticed.
From an overlanding point of view the ‘leave it better than you found it’ approach is something we are always mindful of and don’t hesitate to tidy up and bin bag rubbish that is not ours if we’ve stopped somewhere. Clearing up bricks and morter is however a job for the town hall/local council who do not appear to have fly tipping on their radar at all.
It’s not just building materials
While you can witness discarded building materials frequently the is fly tipping a problem in rural Spain? question should be extended to the practice of not giving a s**t about the area in which you yourself live and the littering of rural woodland and protected green belt land.
The frustrating part about littering in these areas is the lack of respect for others and the environment. In the UK we have half as many people again in a country half the size compared to Spain, as a result the island is crowded by comparison and there are far fewer areas to enjoy in the outdoors. These areas, in the main are looked after, in Spain they are treated with little recognition, to be blunt, those that brainlessly litter here have no idea of how lucky they are having such rural and open spaces to enjoy – especially coupled with the weather. It is a real shame.
What are the fines for fly tipping in Spain?
The fines for fly tipping in Spain of course vary depending on the region, in general fines start from €750 up to €40,000 euros.
Fly tipping in rural Spain could be avoided to an extent, the fact of the matter is that there will always be those selfish individuals who don’t care and we live in a world where everything has be ‘convenient’. With this in mind it would make no sense at all to make getting rid of your rubbish more difficult right? Well, that is exactly what our local Ayuntamiento did.
The local tip used to be a plot of land on the outskirts of the village, a dumping ground out of site, out of mind. Then it moved, closer to the village, then it moved again to an enclosed area with a building attached to separate the tv’s and washing machines etc. This idea in itself is a good one because we now have the whole recycling thing happening but…
“Getting rid of your rubbish got a whole lot harder”
The ‘Punto Limpio‘ is now locked up, it is only open between 10.00am – 12.00 noon so a very short window of time to get rid of your rubbish. The best part is that it is also only open one day a week on a Thursday. Getting rid of your rubbish got a whole lot harder so no surprises when fly tipping increases.
Can you leave your unwanted rubbish outside the gates? No, the fine is 600k. Go figure.
What can be done?
Making the local tip/recycling area more accessible is clearly going to be advantageous, the rest unfortunately comes down to education, continually dealing with the problem does not fix it, the main issue is that littering is kind of hard wired into the older generation and not much is being done to change it.
In the meantime we can all do our bit, as overlanders we get to places which are hidden, quiet and out of the way, there is no harm at all in taking an extra bin liner to collect up those plastics, bottles and whatever else has been mindlessly dumped. No, you won’t get any brownie points from anyone, or any thanks from the town hall but you will feel a whole lot better about making a small difference to the planet and those places us overlanders love to explore.
Fly tipping a problem in rural Spain? What are your thoughts? Do you, as an overlander collect rubbish that isn’t yours?