LGA warns that ‘lenient guidelines’ lead to low fly-tipping fines

New findings from the Local Government Association (LGA) show that fly-tippers prosecuted in court for the ‘worst waste dumping offences’ were fined an average of £335 in 2020/2021. This is £65 less than the £400 fixed penalty notice that councils can issue as civil action.

fly tippingRepresenting more than 350 councils across England and Wales, the LGA urges tougher sentences to deter fly-tipping – especially as the criminal offence costs councils more than £50 million per year to clean up.

The organisation is therefore calling on the Government to work with its members on reviewing guidance to the courts to ensure the worst offenders face tougher fines and that councils have sufficient funding to investigate and prosecute.

In 2020/21, the LGA found that local authorities in England faced 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents, an increase of 16 per cent on the 980,000 reported in 2019/20.

Although councils take fly-tipping seriously, the organisation notes that prosecuting fly-tippers requires time-consuming and ‘laborious investigations’ with a high threshold of proof. Councils are often left ‘out of pocket’ from court action where costs are not fully repaid.

The LGA highlights the example of a Weymouth man fined only £150 as a result of the ‘limited time and resources’ available to Dorset Council’s Waste Enforcement and Legal Team. The offender was initially issued a fixed penalty notice of £400, which he did not pay.

The organisation says that courts should look at fly-tipping as an offence first, as opposed to the individual's ability to pay. There should also be an increase in suspended sentences, or custodial sentences for anyone convicted of a second fly tipping offence.

Cllr David Renard, environment spokesperson at the LGA, said: “Fly-tipping is criminal activity and is a blight on our public spaces. The individuals responsible for it must be held accountable and prosecuted.

“We support the Government’s investment in CCTV in fly tipping hotspots, but without higher fines for the worst-kind of offences, criminals will remain undeterred.

“Magistrates need new sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, to make court action more worthwhile for councils and in turn, reduce fly-tipping in our communities.”