Fly-tipping is a growing problem across the UK. Many lawbreakers will illegally use large areas like building sites as a dumping ground. For those in the construction industry, it can be time consuming, hazardous and costly, having to deal with someone else’s illegally disposed rubbish. The following guide, produced by agricultural insurance specialists Lycetts, outlines what processes are in place to deal with fly-tipping in the UK. It will also explore prevention methods you can implement on your site to deter fly-tippers.
What is regarded as fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping involves the illegal act of disposing of waste material on a land that is not licenced to receive it.
Common items that fall under fly-tipping are bags of rubbish, furniture like beds and mattresses, garden waste, and tyres.
Does fly-tipping happen a lot?
The Daily Telegraph reported on fly-tipping after a freedom of information request by ITV, which revealed the extent of Britain’s fly-tipping problem. Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, went as far as to say that the crime has reached “crisis levels” throughout the country.
Some parts of the UK have seen fly-tipping incidents rise by over a fifth year-on-year, according to The Daily Telegraph. 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.
Even with some parts of the country seeing a reduction in the number of fly-tipping cases, the issue is not yet resolved. In Birmingham, for instance, the number of fly-tipping cases are down by 13 per cent between November 2015 and December 2016. However, the figure during this period was still recorded at 21,000 offences.
Ms Ogden-Newton observed that: “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.”
Fly-tipping is a particular problem in Scotland, says James Cuthbertson, an account executive at Lycetts. Near to 61,000 fly-tipping incidents are recorded in this country every single year, Mr Cuthbertson has found.
He also said: “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. Farmers and other countryside custodians must meet the cost of clearing rubbish from private land themselves, at an average of £1,000 a time.”
Is fly-tipping prosecutable?
Efforts are in place to try and discourage fly-tipping.
Figures from the BBC show 1,602 prosecutions were made across England for fly-tipping 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 with regard to cases of fly-tipping.
What are the penalties for fly-tipping?
Carrying a penalty of an unlimited fine and five years’ imprisonment, fly-tipping is marked as a serious crime. It is also important to note that those who permit fly-tipping to take place on their land or any land that they rent will also be committing a fly-tipping offence.
With that said, Mr Cuthbertson points out: “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.”
What can I do if I am a victim of fly-tipping?
You are responsible for clearing away any rubbish on your site, even if you are a victim of fly-tipping.
Fly-tipped waste may be dangerous, so do be careful when dealing with it. 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.
Record details about the waste you have discovered on your site. 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.
After reporting the waste, secure it to prevent any unwanted interference or additions to it.
There are measures to consider when the waste is being moved away as well. 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 a third party is required to deal with the waste for you, make sure they give you the required documentation. It should include details about the waste and those who are taking it away. 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 says.
If you spot someone actively fly-tipping on your site, your own safety is priority. 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 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 it out.
Many companies would call a skip hire company like Mackers Total Recycling to help remove rubbish that has been fly-tipped or dumped.
What can I do to prevent fly-tipping on my site?
There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of fly-tippers visiting you.
Making sure any gates are closed and locked when not being used will secure your site from fly-tippers. Strategically placing physical barriers around the perimeter can also make it difficult for fly-tipper’s vehicles to get through.
The risk of being caught is also a very effective deterrent. Therefore, work on improving visibility all around your property and its land, make sure high-quality exterior lighting is installed and in working condition, and set up CCTV cameras and appropriate signs alerting people of the technology’s presence.