The UK has a serious problem with fly-tipping, especially when it comes to lawbreakers choosing to dump their waste on farm land illegally, as opposed to working their way through authorised channels. In this guide, specialist farm estate insurance provider, Lycetts, looks at how bad fly-tipping has become across the country and the steps people must take if they find that they have become a victim of fly-tipping:
The standout facts and stats surrounding fly-tipping
Fly-tipping is where rubbish and large items are dumped onto land that does not have a licence to receive them. There are many items which can be defined under the banner of fly-tipping, including a bin bag filled with rubbish, tyres, waste which has come from construction activities, mattresses, beds, and garden waste.
In an attempt to find out how serious an issue fly-tipping is across Britain, ITV News sent out a freedom of information request. The results were reported on by The Daily Telegraph, which recorded that a selection of council regions has seen the number of fly-tipping incidents jump by more than a fifth year-on-year. For example, almost 40,000 reported incidents were recorded in the North London district of Haringey between November 2015 and December 2016, with more than 30,000 incidents also reported in Manchester over the same period.
While there are parts of the UK that have recorded a decrease in fly-tipping cases, even these areas still have to look into a significant number of incidents each year. In Birmingham, for instance, the number of fly-tipping cases were down by 13 per cent between November 2015 and December 2016. However, the figure during this period was still recorded at 21,000 offences.
Allison Ogden-Newton, the chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, stated: “Fly-tipping is an epidemic, it’s reached crisis levels and something needs to be done about it. Local authorities are overwhelmed with instances of criminal fly-tipping and we need to address this urgently.”
James Cuthbertson, one of Lycetts’ account executives, also points out that fly-tipping is especially rife throughout Scotland. In fact, he has acknowledged that close to 61,000 fly-tipping incidents are recorded in this country every year.
“The culprits tend to think of this practice as a victimless crime; but estimates put the cost to Scottish tax payers at £8.9 million a year to clear and dispose of tipped rubbish from council land,” noted Mr Cuthbertson. “Farmers and other countryside custodians must meet the cost of clearing rubbish from private land themselves, at an average of £1,000 a time.”
How the law is looking into the crime
Not everyone gets away with fly-tipping, fortunately. According to figures obtained from the BBC, a total of 1,602 prosecutions for fly-tipping were carried out across England between 2016 and 2017. What’s more, 98 per cent of prosecutions made resulted in a conviction. During the same time period, councils across England served 56,000 fixed penalty notices in regard to cases of fly-tipping.
What happens to those who are caught when they are fly-tipping? As the practice is deemed a serious criminal offence, those who are caught can face a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment. Be aware too that fly-tipping offences also takes into account those who either permit for fly-tipping to occur on their own land or any land that they are renting.
While this makes for positive reading, Mr Cuthbertson adds: “Fines of up to £40,000 can be imposed but, given budgetary constraints, the pursuit of fly tippers is well down the list of priorities of councils and the police. Furthermore, it is hard to gather evidence to bring a successful prosecution.”
The steps that must be taken by fly-tipping victims
As soon as you spot that your land has been used for fly-tipping, be aware that it will be up to you to clear away the rubbish, as it will be on your private property. Take a cautious approach when finding fly-tipped waste though, as the items may be hazardous. Therefore, bags and drums should not be opened and piles of soil should be a cause for alarm bells, as the material could be contaminated or hiding dangerous material.
What you should do is start recording all details of the fly-tipping incident from the moment you have discovered it. This includes where you located the waste, as well as taking photographs if possible. After all details have been recorded, report the case of fly-tipping to your local authority:
- Those in England and Wales should head to this GOV.UK page and report fly-tipping by first entering the postcode where the waste has been discovered.
- Those in Scotland should report fly-tipping waste by either filling in a simple online form on DumbDumpers.org or contacting Stopline directly by calling 0845 2 30 40 90.
- Those in Northern Ireland should head to gov.uk and find details for their local council, who will be able to advise on the waste disposal sites and recycling centres based nearby for the safe and legal recycling or disposal of unwanted items.
Once you’ve submitted your report, you’ll next need to secure the waste in a manner that no-one can interfere with the contents or add even more waste to it.
You will now be in a position to remove the waste from your land. If you’re able to move the contents yourself, first and foremost, do not take the waste to a licensed site yourself unless you’re registered as a waste carrier. If hazardous waste has been identified, it should only be carried and then disposed of by someone who is licensed to deal with hazardous waste. If you get someone else to remove the waste though, make sure to get appropriate documentation — it should include details about the waste and those who are taking it away — and keep all information about clearance and disposal costs safe, as these can be recovered in the event a successful prosecution is made against the crime committed.
“In the event you wake one morning to find the midnight cowboys have paid you a visit, if the problem is severe, it is worth consulting with your insurance broker,” Mr Cuthbertson also advised. “Most farm combined policies will cover the cost of removal and disposal, less an excess. In the event of a major fly tipping incident, you could be very glad the cover is in place.”
Just be sure never to place yourself into a potentially dangerous situation by confronting someone as they are attempting to fly-tip items onto your land. As the practice is illegal, people are unlikely to take kindly to their crime being observed. Do not confront the guilty parties, but instead, immediately call 999 and then make a note of the number of people involved, descriptions of their appearances, details about the waste being fly-tipped, and information about any vehicles used — this includes the makes of the vehicles, their colours and their registration numbers, if you can make them out.