Councils call for funding as fly-tipping cases sky-rocket

Mounds of fly-tipped waste outside garages in North London
Fly-tipped waste in North London
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for tougher sentences for fly-tippers and more funding to investigate and prosecute offenders as fly-tipping incidents rise by 40 per cent since 2012.

Analysis carried out by the organisation of English and Welsh local authorities shows that the maximum penalty – a £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison – has not been handed out to anyone convicted of fly-tipping since the government released new guidelines in 2014. This is despite cases of fly-tipping soaring by 39.6 per cent since 2012, increasing from 714,637 to 997,553 in 2017/18.

Though councils took action on 494,034 incidents in 2017/18 – up by nearly 70,000 since 2014 – tightening budgets since the imposition of austerity in 2010 have meant that many local authorities have had to redirect resources to other frontline services, such as social care, leaving less money available for enforcement and the use of discretionary powers.

The government has introduced new measures to tackle fly-tipping, including giving local authorities the power to hand out Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of up to £400 to householders who fail to find a licensed carrier for their waste and whose waste ends up subsequently being fly-tipped. The Environment Agency was also granted powers to block access to illegal waste sites and force operators to clear waste at illegal sites.

However, the legal process of investigating and prosecuting offenders is expensive. With local authorities facing a funding gap of £8 billion by 2025, the LGA is calling for the government to ensure that councils have the financial resources to pursue fly-tippers when it conducts its Spending Review.

The LGA has also urged the government to review guidance to the courts to ensure that the worst offenders face tougher sentences to deter repeat activity.

Cllr Martin Tett, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, said: “Fly-tipping is unsightly, unacceptable and inexcusable environmental vandalism. Councils are doing everything they can to try and deter fly-tippers. However, prosecuting them often requires time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof, at a time when councils face significant budget pressures.

“Consistent and hard-hitting prosecutions are needed to deter rogue operators and fly-tippers. Councils also need adequate funding to investigate incidents and ensure fly-tippers do not go unpunished.”