New government plans mean households will no longer have to pay to get rid of DIY waste such as plasterboard, bricks and bath units. This follows the 2015 banning of ‘backdoor’ charges on local residents disposing of household rubbish at household waste centres. Guidance has clarified that this now includes DIY waste.
Earlier this year, Defra reported that local authorities dealt with 1.1 million fly-tipping incidents in 2020/21, an increase of 16% on the previous year. The following month, Jo Churchill, Environment Minister referred to ‘waste criminals’ who show disregard for communities, the environment and the taxpayer. She said: “We have [given] extra powers to the Environment Agency, while our new Joint Unit for Waste Crime is disrupting criminal gangs by prosecuting fly tippers.”
However, many Local Authorities still charge for certain types of DIY waste using rules designed for construction waste. The changes outlined in a technical consultation will remove this loophole.
Alongside this, a call for evidence on the use of booking systems at recycling centres has been launched amid concerns that they may deter people from disposing of waste and increasing the risk of fly-tipping. A number of councils in England will also be awarded grants to tackle fly-tipping through trial projects, including CCTV to target hotspots.
CCTV funding for Durham Council, for example, will lead to individuals who receive an on-the-spot fine for fly-tipping being directed to the council’s self-funded digital educational tool. Completion reduces the amount of the fine.
Buckinghamshire Council, meanwhile, plans to use a combination of AI-enabled rapid deployable cameras and automatic number-plate recognition systems at fly-tipping hotspots to provide an alert in real-time, allowing officers to investigate rapidly.
Churchill said: “I want to ensure that recycling and the correct disposal of rubbish is free, accessible and easy for householders. No one should be tempted to fly tip or turn to waste criminals and rogue operators.”
Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA) said: “There is no single ‘silver bullet’ to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping so we are pleased to see the government announcing a range of new measures to deter this deeply anti-social behaviour.
“These proposals need to be coupled with sufficient resources for local authorities to deal with fly-tipping rather than a small number of grants.”
Tamara Sandoul, CIEH Policy and Campaigns Manager also welcomed the changes: “Fly-tipping continues to be a major problem and proposed measures will help to ensure that householders can dispose of DIY waste for free. However, DIY waste is by no means the only type of fly-tipped waste. The measures proposed by government are therefore likely to reduce rather than eradicate the problem.”
She also highlighted the funding issue: “These proposals need to be coupled with sufficient resources for local authorities to deal with fly-tipping rather than a small number of grants to few areas. More investment in enforcement and intelligence-sharing, both within and between local authorities, is key to tackling an increasing problem that costs the country an estimated £400m every year.”
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