Free waste disposal for DIYers and force fly-tippers to pick up litter, ministers demand

Ben Riley-Smith
Fly-tipper caught smirking on camera as he dumped a washing machine at the side of a country lane - ©

Councils are to be banned from charging DIY enthusiasts to dispose of their rubbish in a bid to stop fly-tipping. 

Government guidance will say that families should not face fees for putting waste from household improvements in council tips. 

There is anger that some are still charging “unfair” fees of up to £4 despite Whitehall trying to stamp out the practice two years ago. 

It forms part of a concerted new drive to tackle fly-tipping to be announced on Monday in the Government’s litter strategy.

Fly-tippers caught in the act will be made to pick up litter during their community service while the public will be urged to report littering by a new smartphone app. 

Huge amount of flytipping down a country lane in Staffordshire Credit: Caters

Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, blamed the charges for incentivising fly-tipping and said it was punishing responsible households. 

She said: “Charging local residents for doing the responsible thing and taking their household waste to the tip is not only unfair and unacceptable, but could also be a lead factor in the reported increases in fly-tipping.

Government now wants to see more of those committing crimes like this taking responsibility for cleaning up the community by picking up litter and illegally dumped waste themselves

Ms Leadsom

“As part of our new litter strategy, we’ll be issuing clear, common-sense guidance for waste and recycling centres so they can be in no doubt people have the right to take their rubbish to these sites free of charge.”

Ministers published guidance in 2015 saying charges should not be put on people throwing away household waste at rubbish tips. 

However there are concerns that the guidance is too narrow, with some councils still charging £4 for a bag of “non-household waste” such as soil or DIY materials.

Ministers will explicitly say that throwing away such forms of rubbish at tips should not incur a fee when they update guidance. 

Two other policies aimed at tackling fly-tipping, the practice of illegally dumping waste on land or water, will also be announced. 

Government officials will work with HM Prison and Probation Service to make sure fly-tippers on community service spend it picking up litter. 

Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary Credit: PA

The drive is an attempt to make litter louts “take responsibility” for their actions and reduce the £50 million cleaning bill picked up by the taxpayer.

The public will also be urged to use the Get Citizen Payback smartphone app, which allows them to flag incidents of littering and fly-tipping. 

Offenders may then be sent to clean up the affected area, with the person who made the alert being told when cleaning is complete. 

Ms Leadsom said: "Countless volunteers take time out of their lives to clean up the mess made by irresponsible litter louts and fly-tippers.

“But clearing up after fly-tipping not only affects local communities, it also costs the public purse millions. 

“The Government now wants to see more of those committing crimes like this taking responsibility for cleaning up the community by picking up litter and illegally dumped waste themselves.”

The Government’s litter strategy, a leaked version of which was published by The Sunday Telegraph earlier this year, has been worked up across Whitehall for months.

It is an attempt to fulfil the Tories’ 2015 election manifesto aim of becoming “the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than that in which we found it”.

The strategy will contain stark figures about the scale of litter across the country. At any one time it is estimated Oxford Street is covered by 300,000 pieces of chewing gum, while an average of 802 pieces of litter are found on every 100m of beach.

FAQ | Fly-tipping

Other measures in the strategy will include giving drivers an automatic £60 fine for rubbish thrown from their car even if they are not personally responsible.

Improving the nation’s “binfrastructure” – where and how bins are distributed in public spaces – to reduce littering will also be a focus. 

Increasing littering fines and an attempt to identify 25 “priority litter hotspots” that can be targetted for “lasting improvement in cleanliness” will also be proposed. 

Ministers hope the litter strategy can have a lasting impact one the cleanliness of Britain’s streets. “This is not a strategy that will just gather dust. We want everyone to step up and deliver,” the leaked version said. 

“Good infrastructure and clear social expectations, supported by proportionate enforcement, will help reinforce social pressure on everyone to do the right thing.”