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Defra’s response to fly-tipping coverage in today’s Daily Telegraph

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An article in today’s Daily Telegraph reports that Jeremy Paxman and Clean Up Britain founder John Read have criticised the Government’s action to tackle fly-tipping and the levels of enforcement action against fly-tippers.

A Defra spokesperson said:

“Fly-tipping is a serious offence which blights communities, spoils our countryside and poses a risk to human health and the environment, and both councils and the Environment Agency have been given a range of powers to tackle it.

“In 2018/19, there were 76,000 fixed penalty notices, up by 11%, with 499,000 enforcement actions – an increase of 1%. Figures from 2018/19 also show that the total value of fines increased by 29% to £1,090,000.”

Responsibility for dealing with fly-tipping falls to both local authorities and the EA. Councils are responsible for investigating small-scale fly-tipping and issuing fines, while the EA is responsible for large-scale illegal dumping and serious and organised waste crime.

Anyone caught fly-tipping can be fined up to £50,000 and face 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrate’s Court, while unlimited fines and five year prison sentences can be issued in Crown Courts. Councils are able to issue on-the-spot fines to fly-tippers and have the power to stop, search and seize vehicles which are suspected of fly-tipping.

Local authorities and the EA can also issue penalties of up to £400 to householders who do not pass their waste to a licensed carrier and whose waste is then found fly-tipped. Before householders pass their waste to a carrier, they should check the carrier’s authenticity on the EA website.

In 2018, the EA issued 236 enforcement notices, 38 formal cautions and brought 113 prosecution cases for waste crime.  As a result of prosecutions taken by the EA, the courts fined businesses and individuals almost £2.8 million for environmental offences in 2018.  In 2018/19, the EA stopped illegal waste activity at 912 sites, 12% more than the previous year.

In January this year, a Joint Unit for Waste Crime was also launched to tackle serious and organised waste crime which costs the economy £600m in England alone. For the first time, the Joint Unit brings together all four of the UK’s environmental regulators, police forces, HMRC and the National Crime Agency.

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  1. Comment by Suzi posted on

    Serious question: would it cost the taxpayer less to simply let businesses dispose of their waste free of charge at a council run waste recycling centre instead?

  2. Comment by Paula Troughton posted on

    The funding for EA has been cut too much and they have lost large numbers of staff. Their responsibilities are too wide, and the state of our Rivers is a reflection of their inability to deliver efficient services in an increasingly criminalistic country.

  3. Comment by Michael Hughes posted on

    A formal collect and disposal documented system is long overdue to counter commercial -scale fly tipping. Until something like that happens these criminals will continue to profit big-time from illegal dumping.