Household items discarded next to row of garages

Increased fly-tipping sees greater power given to local authorities

Defra’s latest statistics show lockdown fuelled an increase in fly-tipping incidents, while CLA calls for tougher punishments for perpetrators
05 January 2022 , Steve Smethurst

Latest report prompts CLA to describe fly-tipping as “serious organised crime” as Government strengthens local authorities’ powers to prosecute waste criminals through the new Environment Act.

Defra latest fly-tipping statistics reveal that local authorities dealt with 1.1 million fly-tipping incidents in 2020/21, up from the 980,000 cases reported in 2019/20, an increase of 16%.

The first national lockdown in March 2020 is thought to have played a significant role as some local authorities were unable to maintain collections of dry materials, with some suspending garden and bulky waste collections. There was also a widespread temporary closure of household waste recycling centres.

However, as the Defra figures only account for the waste dumped on public land and reported to the local authority, the full scale of the problem is much greater.

 “There simply won’t be a reduction in this crime until those caught are given much tougher punishments. In many cases this is serious organised crime, and should be treated as such.”

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Regional Director, Cath Crowther told EHN Extra: “Fly-tipping remains a constant menace and a crime that continues to take place with worrying regularity. When fly-tipping occurs on private land, the landowner is a victim of crime. Clearing up comes at significant personal cost and can average around £1,000 per incident. Many areas are targeted on a regular basis.

 “There simply won’t be a reduction in this crime until those caught are given much tougher punishments. In many cases this is serious organised crime, and should be treated as such.”

One CLA member, who farms in the East of England, said he regularly finds rubbish dumped on his land. “We get a fly-tipping incident most weeks. It ranges from small amounts of rubbish and garden waste, to larger tips around once a month.

“It often includes soiled nappies and waste food. On one occasion we found a puppy dumped in a box. It costs us several thousand pounds a year to clear it up, including the replacement of padlocks and chains and repairs to gates and fencing. We also suffer damage to our crops.”

Resources and Waste Minister, Jo Churchill said: “We have given local authorities a range of powers to tackle fly-tipping and we are going further; strengthening powers to detect and prosecute waste criminals through the new Environment Act, consulting on introducing electronic waste tracking and reforming the licencing system.

“Increased use of technology is also helping, with more councils now encouraging the public to use apps and online platforms to quickly and easily report this crime so authorities can take action.”

CIEH Policy and Campaigns Manager, Tamara Sandoul said that despite some strengthening of legislative controls and campaigns to better address it, fly-tipping continues to be a major problem.

She said: “It can pose serious environmental and public health hazards as well as blighting the appearance of areas. Unscrupulous operators undercut and hence undermine waste businesses operating within the law and place a large financial burden on enforcement authorities and private landowners, who frequently have to incur substantial waste clearance costs.”

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