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Tackling the surge in Covid-19 fly-tipping

Fri 4 September 2020

In 2018/19, there were over a million cases of fly-tipping in the UK, a figure which was up by 8% on the previous year. Unfortunately, it is already becoming apparent that cases are increasing further this year due to Covid-19 and the associated temporary waste closures.

Clear Waste (a UK-wide app that forwards independent reports of fly-tipping to local councils) has logged increases of 74% in July alone, a surprising figure considering waste disposal centres reopened in early May, most offering a free service. Local councils are beginning to respond to these figures with enforcement of significant fines and awareness campaigns.

Our farming clients tend to be the most frequent victims of fly-tipping, causing serious problems for wildlife and water as well as being left with responsibility to have it removed, and of course, the bill. With figures increasing at alarming rates, Paul McGee felt it important to ensure that farmers and landowners were informed as to why it happens, what to do should it happen on your land and how you can prevent it.

Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste. It’s an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and it’s a big problem for many farmers and landowners, particularly those on the urban fringe. The cost to Councils of fly-tipping is estimated to be between £86m and £186m per year and the cost to landowners is estimated to be between £50m and £150m per year.

There are no real excuses for fly-tipping, it fundamentally comes down to laziness and a disregard for the countryside. That said, most frequently it is due to a financial saving; disposing of waste in the correct way can incur a cost, however, most household items can be taken to a local waste recovery centre free of charge. 

Firstly, it is extremely important to not touch or move the waste until you have notified the relevant authorities, however, it is advised to take photographs and notes.

Whether the fly-tipping is on public or private land, it should always be reported to your local authority. It is the responsibility of the council to dispose waste on public land, however, it might be possible for your local Council to obtain a Court order for your clean-up costs. For larger, organised or potentially hazardous waste, the environment agency must be informed. 

Those that are participating in fly-tipping are participating in something illegal, therefore if you catch somebody in the act, you should exercise caution and call 999. 

  • You should consider installing appropriate barriers or gates;
  • You should seek to improve the visibility of areas where fly tipping has happened or could happen as fly-tippers tend to prefer concealed areas; and,
  • You should consider installing CCTV or appropriate signage.  
It’s also important to remove fly-tipping quickly because fly tipping attracts further fly tipping.  

I hope that was a useful brief summary.  If you would like further advice on fly-tipping or indeed advice on any rural property related matter, please do contact us.

Contact your local youngsRPS office
Report fly-tipping to your local council
Contact the Environment Agency