Fly-tipping figures don’t reflect full scale of crime, says CLA

Latest figures show a 4% decrease in reported incidents for 2021/22, but figures don’t reflect increasing reports of fly-tipping on private rural land
Fly-tipping Crondall Hants Jan 2023 1.jpg
Fly-tipping in Crondall, Hampshire

Recorded incidents of fly-tipping on public land have decreased by 4% across England in 2021/22, according to the latest figures from Defra, but the CLA warns that they don’t reflect the full scale of the crime.

Local authorities in England dealt with 1.09m fly-tipping incidents in 2021/22 compared to the 1.14m reported in 2020/21. The figures show that the percentage of fly-tips involving household waste has fallen from 65% to 61%.

However, some regions in England have shown a significant increase, with some boroughs and districts reporting double or treble the number of incidents compared to 2020/21.

Defra says that an extra 52,000 enforcement actions were carried out and that the number of fixed penalty notices issued was 91,000 in 201/22 – an increase of 58% compared to 2020/21 figures.

However, a large majority of fly-tipping incidents occur on private land, which is not included in these figures. Two-thirds of all farmers and landowners in England have, at some stage, been a victim of this crime, leaving them with a bill that can run into thousands of pounds to remove the rubbish.

In 2022, the government introduced measures to crack down on fly-tipping, including more funding for local authorities.

CLA President Mark Tufnell says that government needs to do more to achieve serious results in tackling the problem.

He says: “We’re pleased to see, following years of campaigning by the CLA, that progress is being made in the fight against fly-tipping – including increased penalty fines which have led to an overall decrease in incidences.

“Yet despite the overall decrease in incidences, these figures fail to reflect the full scale of the crime, as increasing reports of fly-tipping on private rural land are not included.

Hundreds of thousands of offences on private land are going unrecorded, as farmers often have so little faith in the ability of the police or council to deal with fly-tipping that they simply bear the cost of removing rubbish themselves.

“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.

“The maximum fine for fly-tipping is £50,000 or 12 months in prison, but this is rarely enforced. This means landowners pay on average £1,000 to remove the waste, but in some cases have paid up to £100,000 to clear up other people’s mess or risk facing prosecution themselves.

“The UK Government’s promises to clamp down on fly-tipping on private land are yet to yield serious results. It seems that criminals simply do not fear prosecution. Ministers should look urgently at increasing the penalties for convicted fly-tippers and properly resource rural police forces to ensure they are held to account. Without more progress, landowners, not the criminals, will continue to pay the price.”

The CLA's five-point action plan to tackle fly-tipping