New statistics show ‘organised criminal’ fly-tipping on the rise

New figures released by Defra show that incidents of fly-tipping on public land in England have increased by 8% across England in 2018-19. However, it’s feared the problem could be much bigger as the numbers fail to take into account incidents on private land.

The figures account for waste illegally dumped on public land that has been reported to, and cleared by, local authorities.

They show that over the last year, councils in England dealt with more than one million fly-tipping incidents.

A barometer

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents around 30,000 rural businesses, farmers and landowners in England and Wales, says the figures do not reflect the true scale of the crime as they do not include reports of fly-tipping on privately-owned land.

However, they do act as a barometer and show that after a static year in 2018, the crime has returned to a long-term upward trend.

Commenting on the figures, CLA director-general Sarah Hendry said: “These statistics do not fully reflect the reality of the situation, as many fly-tipping incidents take place on privately-owned land.

“They also don’t show the huge emotional and financial cost of this crime. Our members are all too tired of not only cleaning up other people’s rubbish but paying for the privilege of doing so.

It costs on average £1,000 to clean up each incident. With many rural businesses suffering multiple incidents, it can quickly affect the bottom line dramatically.

Fly-tipping in numbers

More than a third (33%) of all fly-tipping incidents in 2018-19 were the equivalent in size to a small van load. ‘Tipper lorry load’ sized incidents are the most expensive to clean-up, with just 3% of incidents (36,000) costing councils £12.9 million to deal with.

Across all local authorities in England, 76,000 fixed penalty notice fines were issued, totalling just over £1 million.

Hendry added: “We need a joined-up approach to the issue. The introduction of fees at many rubbish tips and recycling centres has meant we’re now seeing the rise of organised criminal fly-tipping.

“It is repeated and growing in scale and it is vital that rural police forces recognise the changing nature of this crime and respond accordingly.

Finally, we need to see some changes to the law and ensure that landowners are no longer legally liable when waste is fly-tipped on their land. This needs to be coupled with financial and logistical support to help victims clean up waste which has nothing to do with them.

The CLA has long-campaigned for tougher sentences for perpetrators, and more support for the victims, of fly-tipping.