New figures show the number of fly-tipping incidents remains alarmingly high, with nearly one million cases recorded by local authorities in a single year.
Out of 997,553 fly-tipping incidents nationally in 2017/2018, just 137 vehicles were seized (down from 197 in 2016/2017), and out of 2,243 prosecutions, 1,938 fines were imposed, most commonly between £200-500.
The true figures for fly-tipping are likely to be significantly higher, however, as the latest statistics do not include incidents on private land, where the landowner has responsibility to oversee the clearance and cost for waste removal. The CLA estimates it costs a farmer or landowner an average of £844 to clear up each incident.
Businesses and landowners are now calling for stronger enforcement of legal action to help combat the fly-tipping that is blighting the countryside.
CLA South East represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.
Regional Director Robin Edwards said: “The reality is that overall, the true figures are considerably higher than these latest official statistics, as many incidents go unrecorded and unreported. Private landowners are liable for any waste dumped on their land and are fed up of having to clear up other people’s mess, and paying for the privilege.
“It is vital that more prosecutions are brought forward successfully to encourage people to do the right thing and dispose of their rubbish through proper legal channels. Councils must send a clear message to fly-tippers that they will face financial consequences.
“But to really combat this crime against the countryside we need to see tougher penalties which act as a true deterrent. Imposing and enforcing stiffer penalties which better reflect the seriousness of the crime is crucial, along with seizing the vehicles used to fly-tip.”
There have been several big fly-tipping incidents and cases across the South East in recent weeks. They have included:
- Sofas, fridges, a sink, soft toys and much, much more were fly-tipped near woodland on the outskirts of Havant, Hampshire, prompting a criminal investigation by the Environment Agency. It was described as one of the biggest fly-tips in the South in years, with items likely to have been dumped over the course of several weeks.
- An expert in woodland management was handed a suspended jail sentence for illegally fly-tipping waste on an industrial scale on protected woodland in Rother, east Sussex. Timothy Saunders, who ran his own company and was a part-time lecturer in forestry and woodland management, dumped waste including asbestos on land at Barnets Hill, Peasmarsh, near Rye. Rubble, tyres, sheet metal, barbed wire, radiators, fridges and microwave ovens were found on the land, which falls in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- A householder was fined after making no attempt to check if the ‘man with a van' he used to take his waste had a licence. David Newson, 41, of Churchway, Haddenham, Bucks, pleaded guilty at Wycombe Magistrates’ Court to failing in his household duty of care to properly dispose of waste and now must pay a total of £1,568.
- A CLA member in Surrey has been forced to spend £900 beefing up security after furniture and rubbish were dumped on and near her land near Cranleigh. With Surrey County Council proposing to close Cranleigh recycling centre, she is concerned fly-tipping will only increase: “We’ve had to invest in extra fencing, a gate and CCTV, at a considerable cost to us. We fear the situation will only worsen if Cranleigh’s centre, which always seems busy whenever I go, closes as is proposed. The next nearest centre in Surrey would be Witley, but that’s more than an hour’s round-trip from here. This could lead to larger clear-up costs for landowners and taxpayers, not to mention the considerable environmental cost.”
Meanwhile the CLA welcomed an independent review published earlier this week that identified fly-tipping as a key element of serious and organised waste crime. The review mirrors a recommendation put forward by the CLA in its five-point action plan to tackle fly-tipping by calling for a Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) to tackle the most serious cases.
Mr Edwards added: “It is good to see the review recognises the importance of working collaboratively to tackle this anti-social behaviour. We advocate the appointment of a tsar to co-ordinate with national agencies, monitor the scale of the problem across both public and private land and benchmark enforcement performance.”
Click here to read the CLA’s five-point action plan for how to tackle the blight of fly-tipping in full.
Local authority data for your borough/district can be found here.