Fly Tipping & the Law: Keeping Britain Tidy

By: catthymoore

Fly-tipping to illegally depositing waste onto an area that isn’t licenced to accept it. Illegally disposing of electrical items, old mattress, or even a rubbish bag that’s full of waste in the street makes an area appear run down and ugly and creates a local nuisance. On one end of the spectrum, fly-tipping may involve truckloads of demolition and construction waste being tipped on different sites.

The unregulated and illegal disposal of waste can be hazardous to the public, particularly if contains asbestos or toxic material. There may even be a risk of damage to the soil quality and watercourses from the dumped waste.

Local authorities all over England dealt with over a million fly-tipping incidences in 2016/17. The estimated total cost of clearing up the waste was more than £58 million.

Fly-tipping is, however, a serious criminal offence that can lead to prosecution. The courts have several powers they can use to tackle fly-tipping, which include substantial fines of up to £50,000, imprisonment, orders to pay costs, and orders to deprive rights to vehicles used for committing to the offence.

If someone has fly-tipped on your land what should you do?

If you are a private landowner that becomes a fly-tipping victim, it is important to realise that you are responsible for disposing of the waste safely and cater to any costs associated with doing so.

Report all incidences of fly-tipping to the Environment Agency or local authority. While they are not obligated to remove the waste, they can offer guidance on the most appropriate way to deal with the removal of the waste.

You need to determine how best to deal with the waste that’s dumped on your land. Ensure that it can’t escape or be interfered with.

Check that any contractor you hire to get rid of the waste is actually a registered waste carrier. You can easily do this by calling the general enquiries Environmental Agency.

Think about the reasons why your land was targeted. Is it easy to access? Is it a site where people aren’t easily seen fly-tipping? Once you find out the reason why your land was targeted, take appropriate steps to ensure that it’s less vulnerable.

How do you stop waste from being fly-tipped?

Bulky Waste (sofas, fridges, etc.) – your council isn’t obligated to remove such waste. However, many councils actually offer a bulky waste collection service. Get in touch with your local council for more details.

Garden Waste – Most local authorities offer garden waste collection, typically in separate bins. Otherwise, you should either compost it at home or take it to your local tip.

Commercial Waste – If you operate a business, you are required to have a contract with a registered waste carrier to make sure that the waste is disposed of the right way. If you are disposing of business waste at a landfill or tip, the site must be licenced to take the commercial waste. You will be required to pay landfill tax and a gate fee.

If you would like a third party (e.g. contractor) to get rid of the waste as part of their job, you need to make sure that they are a registered waste carrier who. Ask them to provide to their certification or you could simply get in touch with the Environment Agency to verify such details. Alternatively, you can hire a skip, clear the rubbish and take it to a registered waste carrier.

Report it. It is illegal to dump rubbish.

If you report all fly-tipping incidences, the rubbish can be removed and with your assistance, it is possible to investigate the crime. If you witness any fly-tipping incident or would like to report an area where fly-tipping has happened, it is important to take note of:

  • The date, time, and location of the incident
  • How much of the waste is there and what it looks like
  • Descriptions of any individual(s) and/or vehicle(s) involved as well as their registration number(s)

The Environment Agency and local authority both have powers to tackle fly-tipping and have developed a fly-tipping protocol for addressing the critical issues associated with the problem. The protocol spells out who is responsible for dealing with the different types of incidents.

Local Authorities are responsible for dealing with smaller scale and more frequent fly-tipping incidences while the Environment Agency is responsible for dealing with the more serious and larger scale incidents of illegal waste disposal or fly-tipping that involves hazardous wastes as well as fly-tipping undertaken by organised criminal gangs.