Tower Hamlets fly-tippers can now be hit with £1,000 fines in 'environmental crimes' crackdown

An East London council has increased the maximum fine for fly-tipping by £600 in a bid to clean up the borough. Tower Hamlets Council is handing out higher fixed penalty notice (FPN) fines for anyone caught fly-tipping, littering or spraying graffiti following cabinet approval in March 2023.

The council has increased the maximum fine for fly-tipping from £400 to £1,000, though there is a £500 discount if paid earlier. In 2023/24, the borough saw 6,700 reports of fly-tipping, which the council estimates to have cost around £2million to clear, dispose of and investigate.

The council has also increased the maximum fines for littering, fly-posting or spraying graffiti from £420 to £500, though people can receive a £250 early payment discount. The increase to FPNs came into force last Monday (May 20). The council estimates it currently spends more than £200,000 cleaning up graffiti.

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Meanwhile households who fail to properly dispose of their waste risk a maximum fine of £600, which has been increased by £200, though there is an early payment discount of £300. The Aspire mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman hopes by increasing the fines the council will be able to crack down on those committing "environmental crimes".

Mr Rahman said: "We know offences like fly-tipping, littering and graffiti affect our borough and divert vital council resource and funding to deal with them. Anyone responsible for these kinds of offences, be it individuals or businesses, will now face tougher penalties. With harsher enforcement action, we are sending the message that these antisocial crimes will not be tolerated in our borough."

'Worst household recycling rates in the the country'

In 2022/23, Tower Hamlets had the worst household recycling rates out of the the country. Research published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found Tower Hamlets had the lowest recycling rate out of all 32 London boroughs and the whole of England at just 17.7per cent.

The department explained in its research: "...in built-up areas with a higher proportion of flats, residents may find it difficult or be unwilling to store waste for recycling, and will not be producing garden waste for collection." Tower Hamlets has the fastest growing population in the country, and saw its local population grow by 22.1pc from 254,000 residents in 2011 to 310,300 residents in 2021.

The East London borough is also the most densely populated area in England with 15,695 residents per square km, which was also highlighted in the council's response to the LDRS (Local Democracy Reporting Service). A council spokesperson said 9,000 new homes were built between 2019 and 2022, however the borough has struggled to keep up with providing enough recycling facilities and infrastructure.

The spokesperson said: "Also, 88pc of our housing stock is flats and maisonettes. This is 32pc higher than the London average and 64pc higher than in England, meaning more of our residents have to share their recycling bins compared to the majority elsewhere who are responsible for their own bin. The sheer numbers of people, development not keeping pace with recycling demands, ageing housing stock, and shared facilities make recycling much more difficult."

They went on to say: "Add to that the thousands of visitors and workers that come to our borough every day and you can see it's challenging. These points are for context and not to make excuses." The council is spending £2.1m on improving recycling facilities across more than 2,000 flats, and is working on pilot programmes to improve recycling services for flats above shops, as well as working with schools to encourage more of them to separate their food waste for recycling.

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