One million fly-tipping incidents reported in 2018/19

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published its latest statistics on the number of fly-tipping incidents recorded by local authorities in England from April 2018 to March 2019.

An image of some fly-tipped waste

According to the new figures, local authorities in England dealt with over one million fly-tipping incidents in 2018/19 – an eight per cent rise on the 998,000 incidents reported in 2017/18.

62 per cent of fly-tips in 2018/19 involved household waste, including black bag waste as well as material from house or shed clearances, old furniture, carpets and the waste from small-scale DIY works. As in previous years, pavements and roads remained the most common places for fly-tipping to occur.

Local authorities carried out 499,000 enforcement actions in 2018/19, an increase of 5,000 actions from last year. The number of fixed penalty notices has risen by 11 per cent to 76,000 in 2018/19, and the number of fines issued has increased by six per cent.

Defra highlighted the complexity of gathering fly-tipping data, stating that the figures should be interpreted with care as many local authorities have ‘changed the way they capture and report fly-tips over the past few years.’

Defra also warned against direct comparison between individual local authorities, explaining that the frequency of fly-tipping can be influenced by many different variables, including population density, housing stock, demographics and commuter routes. 

George Pearce, Commercial Development Manager for waste management company Biffa, commented: “As a leader in sustainable waste management in the UK, Biffa deals with fly-tipping issues on a daily basis. In our experience of dealing with the problem, the most effective way to solve fly-tipping is to take a holistic approach, working with councils and government bodies to tackle the problem from all angles.

“Currently the full scale of the problem is unclear as the extent of fly-tipping on private and commercial land is much harder to analyse.

“By preventing fly-tipping piles from increasing, people are less likely to dump rubbish on top and contribute further to the problem. As part of our own solution for customers, we provide Biffa OneCall, a specialised service which provides a rapid response to any fly-tipping alert, limiting small issues from becoming large land contamination issues. We’ll be sharing this information with Defra as well to aid their research into solutions for the issue.”

Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said: "The dramatic year-on-year increase revealed by Defra's statistics provide a stark indication that fly-tipping in England is out of control, at over a million incidents a year. 

"The annual financial cost of this crime to society, at over £200 million a year, is simply unacceptable, and that's before the hidden, less easily quantified, costs to the environment and local communities are considered

"These worrying figures are further evidence, if any was required, of the urgent need for more robust enforcement, as well as progress on new policy to reform the waste-carriers regime and introduce greater producer responsibility. Such measures could not only help provide funding to clear up fly-tipped waste, but also help to keep criminals out of our sector.

"These measures should be supported by well-funded communications campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and to ensure that householders in particular take greater responsibility for the waste they produce. Until this is tackled head on, I fear we will continue to see these depressing statistics."

A recent report from the Environment Agency (EA) has called on businesses to do more to reduce illegal waste activity, revealing that incidents of serious pollution caused by such activity had increased to 81 in 2018 compared to 51 in 2017.

The government’s recently tabled Environment Bill included stronger measures to tackle waste crime and enforce anti-littering powers, though this has since fallen due to the dissolution of Parliament.

You can view the fly-tipping statistics in full on the Defra website

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