What is Fly-Tipping? – Fly-tipping is defined as the ‘illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it’.
Tipping a single mattress, electrical item or a bin bag full of rubbish in the street or anywhere else that is not licenced to receive it causes a local nuisance and makes an area look untidy and run down. At the larger end of the scale, fly-tipping can involve many truckloads of construction and demolition waste that has been tipped on different types of land.
Uncontrolled illegal waste disposal can also be hazardous to public health and the environment, especially if it contains toxic materials, chemicals or asbestos. Dumped waste also puts watercourses and the surrounding soil quality at risk.
During 2016/17, more than one million incidences of fly-tipping were dealt with by local authorities and councils in England. The estimated cost of investigation and clearance of this waste was over £80 million, which is met by the tax payer and unfortunate private land owners.
Fly-tipping is a serious criminal offence for which you can be prosecuted. The courts have various powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping, including imprisonment, substantial fines including orders to pay costs.
What is the legislation regarding fly-tipping?
There are several pieces of legislation relating to fly-tipping. In England, Wales and Scotland, the main legislation is the Environmental Protection Act (1990)
- For the 2017/18 year, local authorities in England dealt with just under 1 million (998,000) fly-tipping incidents, a slight decrease of 1% from the 1,011,000 reported in 2016/17, following annual increases since 2013/14.
- Two thirds (66%) of fly-tips involved household waste. Total incidents involving household waste decreased by 4% from 2016/17.
- Consistent with previous years, the most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways, which accounted for almost half (47%) of total incidents in 2017/18. The number of highway incidents has decreased by 7% from 2016/17.
- As in the last few years, the most common size category for fly-tipping incidents in 2017/18 was equivalent to a ‘small van load’ (33% of total incidents), followed by the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’ (28%).
- In 2017/18 34,000 or 4% of total incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger, which is similar to 2016/17. For these large fly-tipping incidents, the cost of clearance to local authorities in England in 2017/18 was £12.2 million, compared with £9.9 million in 2016/17. This increase was driven by an increase in the number of incidents in the largest size category of ‘significant/multi loads’.
- Local authorities carried out 494,000 enforcement actions in 2017/18, an increase of 18,000 actions (4%) from 2016/17.
- The number of fixed penalty notices issued has continued to increase, up 20% to 69,000 from 2016/17 and up 91% on 2015/16. This is the second most common enforcement action (after investigations), and accounted for 14% of all enforcement actions in 2017/18.
For 2017/18, 44% of local authorities in England voluntarily provided a more detailed breakdown of fixed penalty notices issued. For these local authorities, 11% of fixed penalty notices were issued specifically for small scale fly-tipping, 52% in relation to littering and 37% in relation to other offences.