A Caithness couple have made a breakthrough in a fly tipping dispute – after the John O’Groat Journal intervened.
Willie and Hannah McLean had tried unsuccessfully to get Highland Council to remove a bulky and unsightly set of seats that had been dumped next to a farm house along the A99 on the North Coast 500 route.
The now derelict property in Freswick was Willie’s family home until 1975. It is still owned by his mother, Helen McLean, who is 83 and lives in Keiss.
The couple were told that as the items were on land owned by Willie’s mother, she would be responsible for them.
Willie and Hannah, who live in Newton Row, Wick, even offered to pay for an upgrade – but said it was turned down by the council because it wasn’t household furniture.
Hannah said the seats had been dumped in what would have been the front garden of the property and were clearly visible from the road, about four miles south of John O’Groats.
“Obviously he didn’t come out of a house,” she said. a wall.”
The couple, who both work in the NHS, said they didn’t want Freswick neighbors and the general public to think they had ignored the problem, but had ‘met a brick wall’ in their dealings with local authorities.
They managed to lift one of the abandoned units from the front of the property and attempted to burn it down into a crumbling outhouse. A dirty mattress had already been knocked over at the site and the couple had also burned it, although the rusty springs remained.
This week the John O’Groat Journal contacted the Highland Council press office about the matter and outlined the couple’s concerns.
A council spokesman replied on Wednesday: “Our waste management team confirmed that it is Highland Council policy that fly tipping on private property is the responsibility of the owner. However, they have reviewed the relevant items. and we are happy to confirm that these items can be removed as part of our bulky lift service.
“We therefore recommend that the owner, or someone acting on their behalf, contacts us to book a large lift – we ask people to allow two days for service delivery.”
The spokesperson added: “Bull dumping is illegal dumping of waste and can be reported to council 24/7 using the online forms at www.highland.gov.uk/ report.
“We can impose fines ranging from £200 to £20,000 or the offender can be sentenced to six months in jail – up to five years if hazardous waste is dumped.”
We got back to the couple with the board’s response.
Hannah said yesterday: ‘I phoned the council this morning [Thursday] and the lady I spoke to said “we don’t do bulky lifts for unloading flies”. I said that we had gone through environmental sanitation, that we had asked for a voluminous recovery, everything had been refused.
“I said the local press picked up on the matter and contacted the commune press office, and they advised us on that occasion to contact you to organize a massive uprising and we will pay for that.
“She said it was fine, so she took all the details. I have a reference number and they are picking it up on Monday.
“If we can get the burnt piece of furniture to the front, it might as well be because we can get three items in the bulky uplift.
“We would still like it to be elevated into the public domain. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be in this situation.
“I want to acknowledge that you have provided this assistance. We really appreciate what you have done.
“We recognize that the board has its policies and procedures, but there should be some leeway. They found this leeway now because you reached out to them.
“These are exceptional circumstances.”