The Facts About Fly Tipping and How 1st Choice Waste Can Help You
What is fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is defined as the ‘illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it’. Waste Management companies like 1st Choice Waste will responsibly recycle and dispose of your waste meaning there is absolutely no reason why fly-tipping is an option, whether you are a homeowner or business.
Fly-tipping is deemed as rubbish which could be a mattress, electrical items or a bin bag of household rubbish being left on a street or lane through to dumping a van-load of construction materials on farmland or a back lane. If where you are leaving the rubbish isn’t a licenced waste site then it is classed as fly-tipping and you could face serious fines and even imprisonment.
What are the penalties for fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is taken very seriously and is a criminal offence for which you can be prosecuted. The courts have powers to tackle fly-tipping, including unlimited fines, imprisonment and they are able to deprive you of the rights to a vehicle if it has been used to commit an offence.
Where does the name fly-tipping come from?
“On the fly” is a term used around 1851 to mean “on the move” and this combined with the act of tipping something out created the term fly-tipping.
What happens if someone fly-tips on my personal land?
If someone fly-tips on your private property then, unfortunately, you are responsible for clearing it. You should always report it to your local authority and ask for their advice. They often won’t clear rubbish left from fly-tipping from your land for free but they may investigate and prosecute. It has been known for disposal costs to be recovered if you have detailed records and prosecution is successful.
Why is fly-tipping so bad?
Fly-tipping has a significant impact on our local environments in regards to pollution, having a negative impact and a danger to wildlife and it can be a danger to public health as well.
Fly-tipping undermines legal waste disposal and when done by waste management companies it significantly reduces their costs, meaning they can make more money for themselves or undercut legitimate waste management businesses who are disposing of their waste in a legal and environmentally friendly way.
According to government stats, there are over 1,000,000 fly-tipping incidents which are dealt with by local councils every year, this equates to nearly 114 incidents every hour which are quite shocking.
It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of fly-tipping are household waste items. This costs local authorities around £58 million to attend, clear and dispose of the waste. This is a huge waste of council resources and money which could be spent on improving our local environments. There are around 500 thousand enforcement actions which take place every year, costing us as taxpayers a huge amount of money.
It is reported that most of the household fly-tipping incidents in the UK are from building works being carried out, gardening, plumbing, plastering and general home improvements. Sadly there are a large number of traders who illegally fly-tip the waste they collect from jobs they are completing to avoid paying waste charges. If hazardous waste is fly-tipped it then needs specialist handling which costs us as taxpayers even more. We would always advise if you are having any work done at home always ask the tradesperson what waste licence they hold or how and where they dispose of the waste from the jobs that they do.
Is fly-tipping a criminal offence?
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence and there are fines of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if you are convicted in a Magistrates’ Court. If a case is heard in Crown Court there can be an unlimited fine issued and up to 5 years prison sentences given. There are also unlimited penalties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and this is used in cases where there has been environmental contamination or injury has occurred as a result of waste being fly-tipped illegally as well as prison sentences.
Fly-tippers vehicles can be seized by the police, the Environment Agency or a local authority, forfeited and crushed.
Penalty fines can be imposed without being taken to court if you dispose of your rubbish in an illegal tip, or with an illegal waste carrier in England and Wales.
The fixed penalty notice is a new power for councils which came into effect in May 2016. They can use the penalties for small-scale fly-tipping and can decide the penalty within limits, depending on the severity.
The minimum penalty is £120 up to £400. This is an alternative to going to court, which saves the council and the taxpayer money in the long run.
It means that households can be given a £400 penalty for failing to take “reasonable measures” to ensure their rubbish is being taken away and disposed of by an “authorised and licensed person or business” without local authorities having to take them to court.
The measures are there to encourage people to check the Environment Agency, the or the Natural Resources Wales online to find out if the person who is taking away their household rubbish is registered and authorised to do so and to discourage fly-tipping.
Why are there different penalties for fly-tipping?
There are different fines and penalties which relate to the scale of the illegal disposal of waste.
Most fly-tipping cases are heard at a magistrates’ court, here the greatest prison term permitted is 12 months and the biggest fine is £50,000. As an example, in 2016 a meat and poultry business who was illegally disposing of their waste was fined just over £25,000 at magistrates’ court. The amount fined considers the scale of the waste being disposed of.
Over 98% of fly-tipping prosecutions in the UK and Wales result in a conviction.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
Anyone who produces waste or anyone who collects waste has a duty of care under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to ensure that it is disposed of properly and legally. This is to ensure the waste is not fly-tipped. As a business or householder even if you have paid someone to take away your waste if they are not licensed to do so you can still be found guilty of an offence.
Waste Duty of Care
General Duty of Care
Anyone who produces, imports, keeps, stores, transports, treats or disposes of waste must take all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is managed properly. This duty of care is imposed under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It also applies to anyone who acts as a broker and has control of waste. A breach of the duty of care could lead to an unlimited fine if convicted in the Magistrates Court or in the Crown Court.
If you have waste you must:
- Check the person or business who is collecting your waste is licensed to do so
- You are responsible for storing the waste safely and securely
- You must prevent it from causing environmental pollution or harming anyone and storing it safely and correctly.
- If you are passing the waste onto someone else or a business you must have a written description of the waste and a transfer note
If you are a person or business who collects waste you must:
- Be authorised by law to collect and receive waste
- Get a written description of the collected waste
- Complete and retain a transfer note for the waste
Your Duty of Care as a Domestic Home Owner:
- You must take reasonable steps to check that anyone or any business removing waste from your premises is authorised and licensed to do so by:
- Check and ask to see their waste carrier licence which is issued by the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales
- Ask them to provide their full name, business name, address and telephone number which their license is registered to
- Contact the Environment Agency (08708 506 506) who provide a free and instant Waste Carrier Validation Check, or check online here
In 2019 The Chronicle Live in the North East Reported:
The staggering amount of cash fly-tipping costs North East taxpayers
More rubbish than ever before was dumped illegally across the North East last year
More rubbish than ever before was dumped illegally across the North East last year – and it cost councils more than £1m to clear up.
Figures published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reveal there were 63,646 incidents of fly-tipping in the region in 2018/19 – or 174 every day.
The total included 13,428 cases where people simply dumped black bags full of household waste in the streets, 3,404 fly-tipped fridges and other white goods – and 93 involving dead animals.
There were also 1,226 cases of tyres being dumped, 350 involving vehicle parts, and even 125 where clinical waste was fly-tipped.
The total number of cases in the North East was up from 62,037 in 2017/18 and is the highest number since local figures were first recorded in 2012/13.
That year, there were 56,748.
Fly-tipping is defined as the “illegal deposit of any waste on to land that does not have a licence to accept it”.
Campaigners said they suspected the reality may be “even worse” than the figures have captured.
In August, Gateshead Council admitted Bensham and Saltwell are its worst affected areas for fly-tipping.
This came after Liberal Democrat activist Leanne Brand hit out after a spate of incidents and she feared it would cause an increase in the number of rats in the area.
The council said it has a special ‘behavioural change team’ to try and ensure residents understand how to recycle and dispose of their waste correctly.
There is also a patrol team and workers who almost exclusively work in Bensham to collect rubbish dumped in the street, but conceded it was a never ending struggle.
Despite this, the authority has been prosecuting the louts who have been illegally dumping rubbish on our streets.
In July, the authority prosecuted a Facebook fly-tipper and forced him to pay more than £1,000 after he was revealed to be behind the mess.
Ex-prisoner Lee Lamb’s attempt to “go straight” saw him tout for trade by offering to dump people’s junk for as little as £40 via social media.
But he was hauled back to court after a customer blew the whistle on his shady scheme.
The 29-year-old, of West Street, Grange Villa, Chester-le-Street, admitted to charges of depositing controlled waste on Harebell Road without a permit and transporting controlled waste.
Magistrates ordered him to pay £1,068.
A woman was also prosecuted for leaving rubbish in back lanes.
Ewelina Jablcyzyk, of Rectory Place, left her old kettle, which still worked, in a box behind her house in a bid to help the less fortunate.
But council solicitor Jill Brown told Gateshead Magistrates’ Court that despite any good intentions, the 34-year-old had contributed to litter problems in the borough, warning that it could lead to rodent infestations.
Jablcyzyk was fined £333, ordered her to pay £50 towards disposal costs, along with council costs of £256 and a victim surcharge of £33.
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, said: “A national programme to educate the public about the dangers and costs of fly-tipping is needed now as we have the evidence of a serious and rapidly escalating problem in this country in how we dispose of our rubbish.
“We suspect that, bad as these figures are, the reality may be even worse as many incidents of fly-tipping are being categorised as littering so not being counted.
“We need a programme of education and engagement in every local authority in the country so that the public understands the law and the impact of their behaviour, both financially and environmentally.
“Our research shows that many people are unaware that they are doing something illegal when they put out black bags or small items because councils are clearing them up extremely quickly and efficiently to keep our streets clean and not telling people that what they are doing is wrong.
“The reality is that this is fuelling the fly-tipping epidemic and costing all of us, as taxpayers, many millions to clean up.
“Britain is becoming a country divided, with more people than ever worrying about the environment and waste and yet equally a growing number of people habitually dumping their rubbish, wrecking that same environment others wish to protect.”
In most fly-tipping incidents, local councils are responsible for removing the rubbish.
The figures show that North East councils forked out £714,486 on tipper lorries to clear the mess and a further £344,809 on significant or multi-load clearances.
However, the Government no longer publishes the amount councils spend on things like car boot clearances, van removals, or single black bag clearances.
It means the total amount councils spent on removing fly-tipping is unavailable and likely to be far higher than the combined tipper lorry and multi-load clearance cost.
The figures also revealed that 20,700 investigations were launched into fly-tipping across our region – but just 396 resulted in a prosecution.
How can you responsibly and legally dispose of your waste?
Contact your local council and ask them if they will come and collect your waste. They collect most types of waste and they will charge you for this service however you know it will be done legally and responsibly
Go online and search for a licenced independent third-party waste management specialist in your area (https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers). Ask them what their ethos is when it comes to recycling so you understand if your waste will be recycled or taken to a landfill. It is cheaper for businesses to recycle their waste now as the charges for disposing of waste in a landfill are steep so there are plenty out there who are doing it in an environmentally friendly way. Waste management companies are expert in waste and are capable of recycling more than 90% of the waste they receive so it is a good option.
Take your waste to a tip who are now generally known as recycling centres. If you are registered at your local tip then depending on the type of waste you have you it won’t cost you. General items local tips tend to allow are:
- Car batteries
- Electrical items, fridges, freezers,
- Lightbulbs and fluorescent tubes
- Garden waste
- Fridges, freezers, and furniture
Use local free selling sites to advertise your old furniture and household items for free. This will save you a trip to the tip and costs to get a waste management company or your local council to come out and collect. Often items you no longer want other people will so always give it a try.
Check if any local charities want to come and collect anything you want to dispose of. Many charities offer a free furniture collection service as an example.
There really is no excuse for fly-tipping and it costs UK taxpayers millions every year, which is money that could and should be better spent elsewhere. Fly-tipping damages our environment and wildlife and can result in people getting injured.
Ben works for the marketing team at 1st Choice Waste Management, he has a passion for marketing and helping businesses to grow.