fly tipping Plans to tackle industrial fly-tipping have been revealed by the Liberal Democrats as part of the party’s proposals to introduce a Zero Waste Bill after the general election on 7 May.

Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says: “Commercial fly-tipping and illegal dumping of waste not only harms British wildlife and the environment, but also means the taxpayer loses out.”

Fly-tipping and landfill tax evasion costs the UK taxpayer an average of £500m a year in lost revenue, he says, and that cost is rising.

Local authorities dealt with 852,000 incidents of fly-tipping in 2013/14, an increase of 20% on the previous 12 months, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

However, DEFRA puts part of the reason for this rise in the number of offences committed down to local authorities introducing technologies such as online reporting of incidents as well increased training for staff.

Household waste accounted for 66% of the wasted dumped by fly-tippers, while construction, demolition and excavation waste accounted for 6% of fly-tipping incidents dealth with by local authorities.

Prosecutions to rise

The Zero Waste Bill aims to increase the number of prosecutions for illegal dumping while also introducing a higher, more consistent level of fines for fly-tippers who damage Britain's environment.  

Under the proposed legislation, organisations caught fly-tipping on an industrial scale in a bid to evade tax could face fines of up to £9m.  

Currently less than 200 prosecutions a year for fly-tipping are successful, while the value of fines imposed by courts averages only £7,000. This is despite the maximum fine for fly-tipping increasing to £3m for companies and £95,000 for individuals in July last year.

Clegg adds: “Our Zero Waste Bill not only ensures a fairer society by giving companies who use illegal dumping to shirk their tax responsibilities their comeuppance; but also creates a stronger economy, turning waste on its head to make it a beneficial resource for the country.”

Lib Dem Environment Minister Dan Rogerson further explains: “We will make Britain’s waste pay – trebling fines for industrial-scale fly-tipping and establishing an action plan to end the practice of needlessly sending waste to landfill.”

Six fly-tipping facts

  • Fly-tipping is the illegal deposit of waste on land contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990. 
  • The 20% rise in the number of fly-tipping incidents dealt with by local authorities in England in 2013/14 when compared with the previous 12 months follows five years of decline.
  • In 2013/14, over 33% of fly-tipping incidents were small van load size over 47% of offences were dumped on highways. 
  • Incidents of fly-tipping on footpaths, bridleways and back alleyways increased 15% in England in 2013/14. Together, these now account for 29% of fly-tipping offences. 
  • It cost local authorities an estimated £42.5m to clear up the waste created by fly-tippers, a 24% increase on 2012/13. 
  • Local authorities carried out nearly 500,000 enforcement actions at an estimated cost of £17.3m, which was an increase of over £2m on the previous year. 
  • The number of incidents of fly-tipping had shown year on year reductions to 2012/13. The figures for 2013/14 show an increase. A number of local authorities have reported an increase in the number of fly-tipping incidents.  

Image credit: Alan Stanton

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