Waste Management

20.10.17

Councils need ‘hard-hitting’ powers to tackle soaring fly-tipping rates

Instances of fly-tipping have reached one million over the past year and the problem is becoming more and more common.

Figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that there has been a 7% increase in incidents compared to last year.

Councils have urged the government to allow more “hard-hitting” penalties for the offence. The LGA says it would make a huge difference to the problem if they could come down harder on people who are caught.

Most of the offences – roughly half (49%) – occurred by highways and 67% involved household waste.

The figures were based on information supplied by councils in England and exclude the majority of private-land incidents. Defra also warned the trends should be “interpreted with caution” because of improvements in data collection.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s environment spokesman, said: “Clearing up fly-tipping is costing councils more than £57m a year – money that could be spent on other services, like caring for the elderly, protecting children or tackling homelessness. It is unacceptable that they are having to spend vast amounts each year tackling this scourge.

“The government has responded to our call for councils to be able to apply fixed penalty notices for small-scale fly-tipping – and this is a big step in the right direction.

“When they take offenders to court, councils need a faster and more effective legal system which means fly-tippers are given hard-hitting fines for more serious offences. Manufacturers also need to provide more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones.”

The most common category of offence was ‘small van loads,’ meaning people using vehicles to transport refuse to a certain location before tipping it out.

Figures showed that the number of fly-tipping incidents had reduced between 2007 and 2013, although the report stresses that this is likely due to improved data collection by councils.

Earlier this year, the government increased penalties on people found guilty of littering, which saw fines go up to a potential £150. Councils will look for a similar announcement on this issue.

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