One Million Fly-Tipping Incidents Recorded in 2019

Fly-tipping is where a variety of waste types, such as household, industrial and commercial waste, are illegally dumped on private or public land. The penalty, if caught, can be substantial, with a maximum fine of £50,000 and 12 months in prison. But with a deterrent such as this in place, why has a significant increase occurred within the past year and what are local councils planning to do about it?

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2019 saw an increase in fly-tipping

In 2019 alone, councils throughout England dealt with a combined one million incidents of fly-tipping, official figures show. Around 1,072,000 incidents were recorded in 2018/2019 – an 8% increase on the previously recorded 998,000 incidents in 2017/2018 – and approximately two thirds (62%) of those 1,072,00 reports involved household waste.

A spokesperson for The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) claimed that their “members are all too tired of not only cleaning up other people’s rubbish but paying for the privilege of doing so.” 

It could cost a private landowner up to £1,000 to clear fly-tipped waste from their property, but when it’s left to England’s local councils to remove fly-tipped waste, it can, on average, cost taxpayers £57m a year to remove illegally dumped waste.

The most common places to find fly-tipped waste are public roads and highways, accounting for nearly half (46%) of the incidents which occurred last year – something which is consistent with previous years. 

As well as there being common places to find illegally dumped waste, there are also common size categories for fly-tipping incidents, with 33% of the total figure for 2019 coming from a ‘small van load’ and 30% being the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’. 3% of incidents were ‘tipper lorry’ size or larger, a trend dating back to 2017/2018. The cost of clearing exceptionally large amounts of fly-tipped waste cost local councils in England £12.9m in 2018/2019, compared with £12.2m the year before.


Waste types most likely to be fly-tipped

Most fly-tipping incidents involve household waste, accounting for 62% of the total figure for 2018/2019 – an increase of 2% on the year before. In contrast, commercial waste made up only 7% of fly-tipped waste in 2019 – a 3% increase on 2017/2018.

There are other waste types which make up a significant percentage of the total figure for fly-tipped waste in 2018/2019, coming in at 31%. These waste types include:

  • Construction waste
  • Demolition waste
  • Excavation waste
  • Other unidentified waste (such as white goods, green waste, electrical items, tyres, vehicle parts, animal carcasses, chemical drums, oil, fuel, clinical waste and hazardous waste)

In 2018/2019, the number of construction, demolition and excavation waste incidents stood at 56,000, compared with 50,000 incidents in 2017/2018.

The number of white goods incidents being fly-tipped has seen a sharp increase, standing at 34,000 in 2013/2014, compared with 49,000 in 2018/2019 – a figure which remained the same since 2017/2016.


The amount of fly-tipped waste cleared by local authorities

By law, councils must clear away small scale fly-tips when dumped on public land, and larger amounts of waste must be dealt with by the Environment Agency. However, with the number of fly-tipping incidents continuing to rise, members of the general public are calling for local councils to do more to ensure their streets and roads are free from illegally dumped, potentially hazardous waste.

A group in Willenhall, a small town in the heart of the West Midlands, are working around the clock to keep their community rubbish-free. However, they claim that the local Walsall council aren’t doing enough to prosecute those who commit the offences, despite having found a considerable amount of information concealed within the fly-tipped waste which could identify and prosecute a perpetrator; “there have been many times we have gone through stinking bags of rubbish and found loads of information, but nothing ever seems to be done.”

In response, Councillor Gary Perry, from Walsall Council, praised the group for its “amazing” work, but claimed that local authorities can’t always notify them of a prosecution or an arrest, as they’re often not able to name and shame offenders.

In 2019, Mr Perry stated that they “have issued 17 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping,” which consisted of twelve £400 fines and five £150 fines. Previously, the council has claimed to have spent around £1.7m over the last five years clearing away fly-tipped waste.

In September 2019, Craig Hickin, head of environmental services at Coventry Council, had authorised and set up twelve new cameras to be placed around the areas most affected by fly-tipping. This came after a reluctance to rely on witness statements alone as locals were “loathe” to pass important information on to the authorities.

Other councils throughout England, including London, Barking and Dagenham, were also resorting to using CCTV to catch fly-tippers in the act. Video clips are posted onto what is known as the “wall of shame”. A spokesperson for one of the councils has vouched for its success, claiming that “every episode has led to at least one person being caught and fined.” 

He has also stated that residents in the area are supportive of the campaign, with people even reporting their own friends and relatives for the offence; “residents have backed our campaign and we have had examples of a husband reporting his wife and a woman who handed herself in after being spotted by a family friend.”

Overall in 2018/2019, it was found that local councils across England had carried out a total of 499,000 enforcement actions – an increase of 1% from the previous year (2017/2018), equating to an extra 5,000 actions.

However, Sarah Hendry, from the CLA, believes that the latest figures published by the local authority don’t truly represent the enormous scale of fly-tipping, as they will not account for waste that has been illegally dumped on private land. So where the latest figures are remarkably shocking, it’s most likely that the overall number of fly-tipping incidents that occurred in 2018/2019 could be considerably higher.


The fines and penalties for fly-tipping

Although punishable by a maximum fine of £50,000 and a 12 month stay in prison (if sentenced in a Magistrate’s Court), the Local Government Association (LGA) has taken steps to analyse prosecution figures. From this, they found that an insignificant amount of people, since the new guidelines were introduced in 2014, had been handed down the maximum penalty for fly-tipping. However, if you’re convicted of fly-tipping in a Crown Court, then the penalty for the crime could be considerably more severe.

Despite nobody being handed down the maximum fines, it was found that the number of fixed penalty notices issued throughout 2018/2019 had increased – up 11% on the previous year. Fixed penalty notices accounted for 15% of all actions taken against fly-tippers in 2018/2019.

Of those fixed penalty notices, 12,000 (16%) of them were issued for small-scale fly-tipping offences, 37,000 (48%) were issued for littering and 26,000 (35%) were issued for other related offences.

Where the number of fixed penalty notices increased, so did the number of fines issued for fly-tipping, booming by 6% in 2018/2019, meaning the total number of fines issued at that time stood at 2,052. When all fines paid were combined at the end of the year, it was found to equal £1,090,000 – an increase of 29% on the year before, where the total number of fines brought in £843,000.

The number of prosecutions for fly-tipping also increased in 2018/2019, up by 7% from 2,243 (2017/2018) to 2,397. In addition to this, 47,000 warning letters were sent, making up 9% of the total actions for fly-tipping offences.

In 2018/2019, of the 2,397 convictions, 40 fly-tippers were given community service, 26 were given a custodial sentence and 80 were given an absolute or conditional discharge and a considerable 101 cases were lost. Despite this, 2018/2019 saw two local authorities issue a fine greater than £50,000 for fly-tipping – the first time since new guidelines were introduced.

With an increasing amount of focus on the environment and ways in which we can help it, people are shocked by the irresponsible disposal of various waste types. Here at Camiers, we’re dedicated to doing all we can for the environment, so you’ll always be able to count on our professionals to clear any fly-tipped waste off your land – we can even deal with hazardous waste types and aim to recycle 100% of the waste we collect. 

If you need our help to clear your land of illegally dumped waste, get in touch with us today to take full advantage of our fly-tipping clearance and waste management services – we operate throughout Aylesbury, Tring and the surrounding areas.