Incidents of fly-tipping in England have risen by 20 per cent

Local authorities in England spent £45.2 million clearing up 852,000 incidents of fly-tipping in the year 2013/14, new figures have shown, marking a 20 per cent increase in incidents in one year.

First time fly-tipping incidents have increased in recent years

Incidents of fly-tipping in England have risen by 20 per cent

According to new figures released by the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) today (30 October), the amount of reported cases of illegal waste dumping rose from 711,000 to 852,000 between the years 2012/13 and 2013/14, despite previous years showing year-on-year declines in fly-tipping.

Indeed, the statistics show that this is the first time fly-tipping incidents have increased in recent years, with incidents at a higher rate than those reported in 2010/11.

According to Defra, the rise could be attributed to the fact that some local authorities have introduced new technologies, such as on-line reporting and electronic applications, as well increased training for staff for dealing with fly-tipping cases.

Commercial waste cases rise by 62 per cent

The data shows that nearly two-thirds of all incidents (563,000 cases) of illegal dumping involved household waste in 2013/14. However, there was a drastic rise in incidents of commercial waste being dumped, rising by 62 per cent to 65,000 cases (around eight per cent of all reported incidents of fly-tipping).

The amount of construction and demolition waste dumped also rose – by almost 20 per cent – to 50,000 cases in 2013/14. This made up six per cent of all cases local authorities reported to the fly-tipping database, Flycapture.

The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways (47 per cent, an increase of 27 per cent on last year), but reported incidents of dumping on footpaths, bridleways and back alleyways increased by 15 per cent since last year, now accounting for 29 per cent of all fly-tipping incidents.

152 per cent rise in the amount of white goods dumped

In the main, people were found to be fly-tipping ‘small van loads’ of material (as was the case in 280,000 incidents). However, there were increases in almost all size categories of waste dumped in England in 2013/14 – with only ‘single bag’ sized incidents not seeing a rise in number (staying at around 49,000 cases). Three per cent of cases involved tips ‘larger than a transit van load’.

Between April 2013 and April 2014 there was also a significant increase in the amount of white goods, such as fridges and washing machines, being dumped in English councils, rising by 152 per cent on last year (34,000 cases, up from 13,000 in 2012/13). There has been no explanation for this marked increase.

Enforcement on the rise, prosecutions down

The estimated cost of clearance of fly-tipping to local authorities in England in 2013/14 was £45.2 million, a 24 per cent increase on 2012/13.

Further to this, local authorities carried out nearly 500,000 enforcement actions against people found fly-tipping in 2013/14, at an estimated cost of £17.3 million (more than £2 million more than in the previous year). This equated to an increase of 18 per cent on enforcement actions in the same period.

The year 2013/14 also saw the largest number of investigations undertaken into suspected fly-tipping activity in recent years, with officers looking into 299,000 cases – 1,000 more than in 2009/10.

More than 65,000 warning letters and 45,000 statutory notices were sent out in the last financial year, with English councils carrying out nearly 48,000 duty-of-care inspections, in line with the previous year.

However, there were only 2,000 prosecutions carried out against waste offenders in England in 2013/14, down by nine per cent from 2,200 in 2012/13.

Ninety-eight per cent of those caught dumping waste were convicted, with the vast majority (84 per cent) resulting in a fine. Other outcomes included conditional discharge (in 183 cases), community service (19 cases) and 10 instances of custodial sentences. There were 36 cases lost against those prosecuted, the highest number since 2010/11.

Speaking of the figures today, Jacob Hayler, Economist at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said the increase was "obviously disappointing", and illustrated the impact of reductions in local authority resources. 

He added: "It underlines the urgency of the industry’s call for more effort from the Environment Agency and local authorities to fight waste crime.

"Without more help, the [Environment] Agency and local authorities are at risk of being swamped by the fly tippers, as well as by professional law breakers involved in waste crime.”

Council call for more fly-tipping powers

To try and crack down on fly-tipping more quickly, councils in England and Wales have been calling on central government to amend fly-tipping legislation so that they can issue on-the-spot fines to those caught dumping waste, and receive full reimbursement of clean-up costs.

The Local Government Association (LGA) outlined that currently, councils can only prosecute fly-tippers by taking them to court, which can be ‘expensive and time-consuming’ and leave them ‘out of pocket’ as they may only receive partial reimbursement of clean-up costs.

Read more about the LGA’s fly-tipping overhaul proposals or download detailed data for fly-tipping cases in each local authority.

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