Defra’s fly-tipping statistics that were released on Wednesday emerge bleak with a 16% increase across England, showing over 1.1 million incidents being recorded.
Cost to landowners
The fact that these figures only account for waste dumped on public land and reported to the local authority means that the reality and scale of the problem is much worse, given the significant number of fly-tipping incidents which happen on privately-owned land.
As we know, the cost of removing fly-tipped waste on private land falls to the landowner, often costing them thousands of pounds to clear this up. New methods to support victims are needed and tougher penalties ought to be enforced to prevent numbers from increasing further. With the statistics showing a fall of 50 per cent in the number of court fines being made and an average fine of just £335, it is clear punishments need to better reflect the seriousness of the crime.
Many see fly-tipping as a minor crime, with perhaps a few black bin bags full of rubbish being dumped here and there. The reality however is much different and a harrowing conversation I had with a member recently proved a stark reminder of this.
Our member 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. To make matters worse, the fly-tipped waste was recently set alight, meaning it is no longer contained within the bales and our member is now having to also pay for the waste to be covered, to prevent the rubbish from spreading further. They are also spending thousands on security measures such as CCTV and new gates.
It is clear from this shocking story that fly-tipping incidents put an awful financial and mental burden on landowners who are victims.
Another CLA 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, suggesting the need to measures to change.
So, what is the CLA doing about it?
Well, there is some good news. We are seeing several new initiatives being announced which aim to tackle the problem and assist landowners with the cost of clearing up.
The Police and Crime Commissioners for Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire have both introduced a fund to which those affected by fly-tipping can apply to cover the cost of removing fly-tipped waste. In another example, Boston Borough Council is trialling a free bulky waste collection service for one month in a bid to tackle fly-tipping in the area. Incidentally, incidents across Lincolnshire have increased by nearly 50% with Boston Borough Council the worst affected. The CLA welcomes initiatives like these and it has been heartening to hear CLA members successfully using these new services.
In addition, along with 150 local authorities and 10 professional bodies, the CLA called upon the Sentencing Council earlier this year to impose tougher fines and sentences for fly-tipping culprits. The response to our join letter was disappointing and we are now working with industry stakeholders to establish the best way forward.
We are also working with local partners and stakeholders across England and Wales to promote education, work in partnership and share best practice and new ideas to tackle this perpetual problem.
The CLA’s Five point plan to tackle fly tipping calls on local authorities, the Environment Agency and police forces to commit to stronger action against the increase of fly-tipping on private land and remove the landowners’ liability to remove waste dumped on their property. We also believe that each local authority should have a dedicated lead for fly-tipping to aid partnership working.
Affected by fly-tipping?
We are always keen to hear from members affected by fly-tipping. If you would like to share your story, please contact Alison Provis via emailor call 01638590429