More than one million incidents of fly-tipping in the UK last year, figures show

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
An illegal fly tip site alongside the Thames estuary at Purfleet in Essex.
Councils in England had to clear up more than a million incidents of fly-tipping last year (PA)

Newly-released figures have shown councils across England had to clean up over a million incidents of fly-tipping last year.

English local authorities reported 1,072,000 incidents in 2018/2019, an increase of 8% on the 998,000 cases in 2017/2018, the latest statistics from the Environment Department (Defra) reveal.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of fly-tipping cases involved household rubbish, ranging from black bags to the debris from house and shed clearances, old furniture and carpets and waste from small-scale DIY projects.

And waste was most commonly dumped on roads and pavements - accounting for almost half the incidents reported.

A third of all the incidents (33%) were the size of a small van load, with 30% considered to be the equivalent of a "car boot or less", and single items such as mattresses or pieces of furniture made up just under a fifth (18%).

Fly-tipping incidents reported by local authorities over the past decade (PA)
Fly-tipping incidents reported by local authorities over the past decade (PA)

Rubbish illegally dumped included tens of thousands of incidents of demolition and construction waste, white goods such as fridges, garden waste and electrical items.

Defra urged care over the data, as many local authorities have altered the way they capture and report fly-tips during the past few years.

But the statistics suggest the problem is on the rise, and risks returning to levels not seen for a decade.

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The figures also no longer include an estimate of how much clearing up fly-tipping costs councils, apart from the small proportion of incidents which were classed as the size of a tipper lorry load or larger.

Clearing up just these cases cost local authorities £12.9 million in 2018/2019 - up from £12.2 million in 2017/2018.

As part of efforts to tackle the problem, local authorities carried out almost half a million enforcement actions, ranging from investigations to issuing fixed penalties and pursuing prosecutions.

File photo dated 31/01/19 of a view of rubbish left by fly-tippers near Ashford in Kent, as charging householders to legally dump their rubbish could trigger a rise in the illegal practice of fly-tipping, environmental campaigners have warned.
Nearly two-thirds of fly-tipping cases involved household rubbish (PA)

The number of penalty notices has continued to increase, up 11% to 76,000 in 2018/2019, including fines for littering associated with fly-tipping and specifically for fly-tips.

David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association which represents councils in England, said fly-tipping cost taxpayers more than £57 million a year to clear up.

He said councils were determined to crack down on the problem, but prosecuting fly-tippers often required time-consuming and laborious investigations.

"The next government needs to ensure councils have the funding needed to investigate incidents and review sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping so that fly-tippers are given bigger fines for more serious offences, to help deter incidents," he said.

"Manufacturers can also contribute, by providing more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones. We'd urge our residents to report fly-tipping as soon as possible."

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