Rural organisations call for tougher action against fly tippers as new figures show dumping rubbish has reached "record levels"

Tougher action is being called for after newly-released figures show fly-tipping has reached “record levels” over the past year.
Incidents of fly tipping during 2020/21 have reached an all time high according Government figures.Incidents of fly tipping during 2020/21 have reached an all time high according Government figures.
Incidents of fly tipping during 2020/21 have reached an all time high according Government figures.

The 2020/2021 report by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed a rise of 16 per cent last year to 1.13 million cases across the UK.

When compared to 2019/2020, the new figures – which are measured as a number of incidents per 1,000 inhabitants – show fly-tipping rose across the North East from 24 to 31 while Yorkshire and The Humber showed a slight decrease from 17 to 16.

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The report also shows the number of fixed penalty notices and fines handed out is down year on year.

However these figures only account for waste illegally dumped on public land which has been reported to the authorities. It does not include rubbish tipped on private land.

“These figures do not tell the full story of this disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside,” Director North of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), Lucinda Douglas, said.

“Local authorities tend not to get involved with clearing incidences of fly-tipped waste from private land, leaving the landowner to clean up and foot what is often an extortionate bill.

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Ms Douglas said “significant progress” needed to be made to stop this rural crime and called for the courts to impose tougher punishments.

Fly-tipping continues to wreck the lives of many of us living and working in the countryside – and significant progress needs to be made to stop it.

“It’s not just the odd bin bag but large household items, from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.

“Although the maximum fine for anyone caught fly-tipping is £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment, if convicted in a magistrates’ court, this is rarely enforced.

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“Unless tougher or more realistic action is taken to combat this kind of rural crime, it will continue to wreak devastation across rural communities This is why it’s crucial that tougher punishments are imposed by the courts.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has also reiterated its call for “urgent action” to tackle fly-tipping on farmland, with NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts describing the figures as “incredibly disappointing”.

“It is particularly disheartening when the number of local authority enforcement actions, fixed penalty notices and fines handed out by the courts to offenders are all down.”

The NFU is calling for Government, local authorities, police and the Environment Agency to work more collaboratively on sharing information to ensure more offenders are being prosecuted.

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Adequate punishments that deter criminals dumping waste illegally and easier ways for the public to recycle rubbish will also help in the fight against fly-tipping which continues to have a devastating impact on farming businesses and rural communities, the organisation said.

“Significant progress needs to be made to stop it from happening,” Mr Roberts said.

“Let’s start by properly punishing those offenders who are caught dumping waste illegally with punitive fines, so they act as a deterrent.”