'Beefed up' fines for fly-tippers under Lib Dem proposal

Fly-tippers will face ‘beefed up’ fines and sentences if the Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) party is in government after May’s general election, according to a new proposal launched by the party today (4 March).

Fines will be trebled to combat the illegal dumping of waste, which the proposal says costs the UK taxpayer on average £500 million a year in lost revenue and removal costs, in addition to damaging the environment.

At present, the number of successful prosecutions of fly-tippers in the UK ranges between 171 and 197 a year, despite a total of 852,000 incidents being reported in England alone in 2013/14.

The average fine given to fly-tippers, according to the Lib Dems, is ‘a measly’ £7,000. The party has vowed to present organisations that fly-tip ‘on an industrial scale to deliberately evade tax’ with fines of up to £9 million.

Most commentators see the landfill tax as one of the main causes for falling landfill rates. After going up £8 a year for many years, the current rate of landfill tax is £80 per tonne; from April, the tax in England will rise in line with the Retail Price Index.

This proposal comes as part of the plans launched by the party to introduce a Zero Waste Bill following a potential election victory – itself a part of the Five Green Laws package in the Lib Dem manifesto.

The five new ‘green’ laws that the party would introduced if elected to power are:

  • A ‘Zero Waste Britain’ Bill – involving ‘binding targets’ on resource use and a ‘clear action plan to reduce waste’;
  • A ‘Heating and Energy Efficiency’ Bill – focusing on improving the energy efficiency of households;
  • A ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ Bill – including a decarbonisation target for electricity generation and a ban on electricity generation from unabated coal;
  • A ‘Green Transport’ Bill – allowing only low-emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ‘ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport’; and
  • A ‘Nature’ Bill – setting legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space.

Bill ‘ensures a fairer society’

Commenting on the fly-tipping proposals, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrat party, said: “Commercial fly-tipping and illegal dumping of waste not only harms British wildlife and the environment, but also means the taxpayer loses out.

“Our Zero Waste Bill not only ensures a fairer society by giving companies who use illegal dumping to shirk their tax responsibilities their comeuppance, but also creates a stronger economy, turning waste on its head to make it a beneficial resource for the country.”

The Lib Dem Environmental Minister Dan Rogerson elaborated on the proposal’s place in the party’s manifesto: “Environmentalism has been at the core of our party’s DNA long before it fell in and out of fashion with other parties.

“This is why we have such a strong environmental record in government, from planting a million trees and protecting our national forests to introducing a 5p charge on throwaway plastic bags.

"Our five green laws take this even further. We will make Britain’s waste pay – trebling fines for industrial scale fly-tipping, and establishing a ‘Stern Report’ to end the practice of needlessly sending waste to landfill.”

The Lib Dem proposal sets out their wish to create a similar report ‘that turns waste into a financial asset and economic contributor’.

Previous promises

In the build up to this May’s general election, some of the political parties are beginning to reveal their plans for the waste and resources sector.

At the 2013 Labour Party Annual Conference, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mary Creagh MP, announced that a ban on food waste at landfill would follow if the party were elected in 2015.

But this January, the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls MP, back-tracked on this promise, calling it “out-of-date” and saying: “This is not Labour’s policy – it was not agreed at Labour’s National Policy Forum in July 2014 and is not in the NPF document.”

Balls was speaking in response to a Conservative Party dossier which stated that the proposed food waste ban would cost £477 million to implement in 2015/16.

The party outlined in a statement at the time that the commitment to ban food waste from landfill had been ‘superseded’ by a commitment to review resource security.

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