Fly-tipping in England up 5.6 per cent

The number of fly-tipping incidents in England increased by 5.6 per cent in 2014/15, according to data released today (20 October) by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

A total of 900,000 incidents of fly-tipping were reported by English local authorities (LAs) between April 2014 and March 2015, compared to 852,000 the previous year. Household waste accounted for 590,000 of these incidents (66 per cent).

According to the reporting LAs, nearly £50 million was spent clearing incidents of fly-tipping in 2014/15, again a significant increase from 2013/14’s £45 million.

Until 2013, incidents of fly-tipping had shown steady decline since 2007/08. That year 1,284,000 were reported, and by 2012/13 the figure had dropped to 711,000, a fall of 45 per cent. However, the number then rose by 20 per cent in 2013/14 and has continued to increase in the past year.

Defra has warned, though, that when interpreting the increase of the past two years, improvements in the capture of fly-tipping incidents should be noted. During the quality assurance process for the data collection, LAs noted the introduction of new technologies such as electronic applications, increased staff training and a more pro-active approach to fly-tipping as improvements made in council responses.

Composition of fly-tipping

Household waste accounted for 66 per cent of all fly-tipping incidents in 2014/15.

The majority of this (49 per cent of the total) was not black bag waste, but included material from house or shed clearance, old furniture, carpets and waste from small-scale DIY works. Fly-tipping of this material has increased steadily since 2007/08, when it made up 35 per cent of fly-tipped waste.

The illegal dumping of black bags of household waste fell in 2014/15, and only made up 17 per cent of the overall fly-tipped waste, down from 26 per cent in 2009/10.

Commercial waste, including pallets, cardboard boxes, plastics and foam, made up the next biggest contribution with nine per cent. The 77,000 incidents recorded in 2014/15 represent a significant rise from the 65,000 reported in 2013/14. Construction, demolition and excavation (six per cent), white goods (five per cent), and miscellaneous waste (including tyres, animal carcasses, vehicle parts, asbestos – 15 per cent) made up the remainder of fly-tipping incidents.

Location and size of incidents

The figures show that nearly half (48 per cent) of all fly-tipping incidents in England occurred on highways, with council land, footpaths and alleyways together housing 28 per cent of incidents.

Moreover, 279,000 incidents (31 per cent) were of a size equivalent to a small van. This was the most common size of illegal deposit, with a car-boot’s-worth of material (30 per cent) the second most frequent.


According to the data, English LAs spent £17.6 million on enforcement actions over the year, up from £17.3 million in 2013/14. Nearly 515,000 enforcement actions were carried out in 2014/15, an increase of 3.1 per cent from 2013/14.

The most common action taken was ‘investigation’, which amounted to 315,000 in total. LA issued over 75,000 warning letters and 38,000 statutory notices in 2014/15, while carrying out nearly 45,000 duty of care inspections.

Over 98 per cent of the 1,810 prosecutions for fly-tipping offences sought by LAs in 2014 resulted in a conviction. The majority (82 per cent) resulted in a fine, with two per cent resulting in community service and one per cent (21) of offenders receiving custodial sentences.

Enforcement practices could be set to change in future, as earlier this month, Defra Secretary Liz Truss stated that fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for fly-tippers will be introduced in England ‘at the earliest opportunity’. The move comes after the Local Government Association called on government to amend fly-tipping legislation so councils could issue on-the-spot fines to those caught dumping waste, and receive full reimbursement of clean-up costs.

Read the full Defra data releases on local authority fly-tipping reporting 2014/15.

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