The CLA View - Steps to tackle fly-tipping

The latest column from CLA East Regional Director Cath Crowther
Cath Crowther 1.jpg
Cath Crowther

Following a number of recent lobbying successes including on hare coursing, the CLA and industry partners have now secured action from Whitehall to help combat fly-tipping.

The new crackdown on waste criminals was unveiled by Environment Minister Jo Churchill as part of fresh plans to reform the waste industry.

Proposals set out in two new consultations will clamp down on waste crime and support people and businesses to manage waste correctly.

The reform of the waste industry will see increased background checks for firms who move or trade waste, as well as making it easier for regulators across the UK to take action against rogue operators.

With waste often handled by intermediaries who conceal their identities to commit serious and organised waste crime, the increased checks will ensure waste is managed by authorised persons only and in a safe manner, making it harder for unregistered operators to find work in the sector.

New plans will also see the introduction of mandatory digital waste tracking, using powers in the landmark Environment Act to overhaul existing waste record keeping. This means those handling waste will record information from the point waste is produced to the stage it is disposed of, recycled and reused. This will enable regulators to better detect illegal activity and tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping, illegal waste sites, and illegal waste exports.

Criminal activities including fly-tipping, illegal dumping, and the illegal export of waste abroad can blight our communities, harm the environment, and pose a risk to human health. In 2018/19, waste crime cost the English economy around £924 million. Local authorities dealt with nearly 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents this year alone.

Waste that had been dumped near a watercourse

On average, each incident of fly-tipping costs the private landowner almost £1,000 to clean up, and in the most extreme cases can cost up to £100,000. Two thirds of all farmers and landowners have at some stage been a victim. And if they don’t clear the waste that is dumped on their land they can face prosecution.

One of our members has been the victim of the ‘baled waste scam’ and is now facing a bill of over £100,000 to clear the site of over 1,000 tonnes of rubbish. Another member finds his land targeted on a weekly basis, with larger tips being seen every month. This member stated that he counts himself lucky if six weeks pass with no incidents.

After many years of lobbying from the CLA, the Government is beginning to recognise the appalling harm fly-tipping is doing to the countryside. These measures are a good start. However, Government must go further still, concentrating on increasing prosecutions and imposing heavy fines on convicted offenders.

We are working hard to represent our members and have recently presented to local authorities, Environment Agency, police and other stakeholders on how can local government can conceivably work with private individuals and landowners to reduce fly tipping. We are also attending a roundtable discussion with Defra Environment Minister Jo Churchill on the topic of fly-tipping, littering and tackling the illegal discarding of waste. This will be an excellent opportunity for us to speak directly with those responsible for policy in this area and make a difference.

The challenge of fly-tipping will not be solved overnight but the latest developments to tackle this crime are a step in the right direction.