Latest government statistics recently released show there were over 1-million incidents of fly-tipping on public land in England in 2021/22.
The figures are a slight drop (4%) across England on the previous year but give an indication of the scale of the crime which is a constant blight on the landscape. The statistics do not, however, account for the thousands of incidents of fly-tipping that take place on private land – that landowners have to clear at personal cost, or risk prosecution.
In the East of England there were more than 75,000 of fly-tipping incidents in 2021/22 and nearly 80,000 in the East Midlands on public land. But this is just the tip of the iceberg as our members, who are a range of farmers, landowners and rural businesses know only too well.
Landowners pay on average £1,000 to remove the waste on their land, but in some cases have paid up to £100,000 to clear up fly-tipping. Two-thirds of all farmers and landowners have at some stage been a victim and bear the cost of removing rubbish themselves, or risk being prosecuted.
For some, hardly a week passes without them having to clear waste that has been illegally dumped. It simply can’t be right that someone who is essentially a victim of a crime can be punished if they don’t sort out someone else’s mess.
It’s not just the odd piece of litter blotting the landscape, but tonnes of household and commercial waste which can often be hazardous – even including asbestos and chemicals - risking the safety of people and animals. This often requires costly expert treatment to remove.
We have seen the police and crime commissioners in Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire set up specific funding that aims to support landowners clear waste that is dumped on their land. A scheme similar to this would be beneficial in other counties too.
In more encouraging news and following years of campaigning by the CLA, the latest figures show a rise in the number of fixed penalty notices issued and court fines. This offers a glimmer of hope, but there is still a long, long way to go. We need to see significant fines handed out on a regular basis if there is ever going to be a meaningful drop in this criminal activity.
The UK Government’s promises to clamp down on fly-tipping are yet to yield serious results. It seems that criminals simply do not fear prosecution. Without more progress, landowners, not the criminals, will continue to pay the price.