More than one million fly-tipping incidents last year – and the true figure is far higher

Newly-released figures from Defra reveal huge scale of an issue blighting rural communities in England
Colin Rayner fly-tipping Berkshire 2
Fly-tipping on Colin Rayner's farm in Berkshire last week, one of thousands of incidents occurring every week across the country

Farmers are continuing to pay the price of fly-tipping, the CLA has warned, as the latest Defra figures show there were more than one million fly-tipping incidents recorded on public land in England last year.

The statistics, released today, reveal councils dealt with 1.08 million fly-tipping incidents in 2022/2023, though these figures only account for waste illegally dumped on public land that has been reported to the authorities.

Many fly-tipping incidents occur on privately-owned land, painting an even more damaging picture of the financial burden and environmental impact fly-tipping brings.

Frustratingly, the figures also show that the number of fixed penalty notices issued was 73,000 in 2022/23, a decrease of 19% from 91,000 in 2021/22.

Country Land and Business Association President Victoria Vyvyan said:

“These fly-tipping figures barely scratch the surface of a crime that’s blighting rural communities, with incidents on private land going unrecorded on a mass scale.

"Farmers and landowners bear the cost of removing rubbish and they pay on average £1,000 to remove waste. This is not a victimless crime - in some cases they have paid up to £100,000 to clear up other people’s mess or risk facing prosecution themselves.

“It’s not just litter blotting the landscape, but tonnes of household and commercial waste which can often be hazardous – even including asbestos and chemicals – endangering farmers, wildlife, livestock, crops and the environment.

“While courts can sentence offenders to prison or unlimited fines, prosecutions are rare and criminals clearly do not fear the system. We are calling for local authorities to help clear fly-tipping incidents on private as well as public land, while the various enforcement agencies must be properly trained and resourced.

“Without more progress farmers, not the criminals, will continue to pay the price.”

Rural communities blighted by fly-tipping

CLA members have spoken out about the impact fly-tipping has on their farms and communities.

Sam Biles, who farms in Calbourne, Isle of Wight, has seen numerous items dumped in the village. He said: “The lanes here are not busy and are frequently the scene of fly-tipping. In the last year there have been tyres, broken glass, fridges and builders’ waste dumped in the various laybys.

“It is such a shame – we are in the heart of the island’s National Landscape and it really detracts from the beauty of our environment. However vigilant we are as a community the fly-tippers continue their thoughtless activities.”

Colin Rayner, who farms in Berkshire and Surrey, suffers fly-tipping on a weekly basis. He said: “We feel we have been abandoned by the law makers and law enforcers. Fly-tipping is a very expensive, ugly plague on the countryside and landowners.”

George Williams, from the Enville Estate in Staffordshire, said: “The Enville Estate is regularly plagued by fly-tipping, with perpetrators having little or no consideration of the actions of their crime on the environment and wildlife. As landowners, we have to bear the financial burden of removing their waste.

“We are lucky to have a good relationship with South Staffordshire Council who swiftly remove any reported fly tipping from highways.

“The penalties for fly-tipping need to be tougher to help remove this crime from our countryside.”