"Britain is drowning under a sea of illegally dumped rubbish" - Fly-tipping increases as Yorkshire revealed to have some of England's highest rates reported

Yorkshire and the Humber have reported some of the highest rates of fly-tipping in England, new figures show.

The region had the third highest rate of incidents reported behind London and the North East according to figures released by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Some 17 incidents per 1,000 people were recorded in the region, with Leeds being the hot-spot, seeing 26,079 incidents of fly-tipping reported.

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Bradford saw the next highest number of incidents with 16,128 reported in the figures.

Hull, Wakefield and Rotherham also saw high incident reporting levels.

Defra have said that high incident levels do not necessarily indicate failure on the part of authorities to control and police fly-tipping, and that those areas with higher levels may be better at reporting incidents when they’re discovered than areas reporting lower numbers.

Almost a million cases of fly-tipping were reported across England in 2019-2020, a 2 per cent year-on-year increase with some 976,000 incidents reported.

Over a third of incidents (34 per cent) were a small van load’s worth of waste, and 28 per cent were the equivalent of a car boot or less.

Yorkshire has one of the highest rates of fly-tipping incidents recorded, figures from Defra show

The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways (pavements and roads), which accounted for over two fifths (43%) of total incidents in 2019/20.

There has been a 32 per cent increase in fines issued to fly-tippers since councils were given the right to issue fixed penalty notices in 2016, Defra said.

Some 423 FPNs were issued in Yorkshire and the Humber, and eighty were issued to houseowners responsible for waste.

£97,995 was collected in fines across the region, and 189 prosecutions brought.

Fly-tipping has a maximum punishment of an unlimited fine or five years imprisonment.

Over 98 per cent of fly-tipping prosecutions have led to a conviction, the department said.

The figures reflect the financial year 2019-2020, and only cover the first two weeks of lockdown.

But separate figures from ClearWaste, a fly-tipping reporting app, have shown a 350 per cent rise in cases since the start of the first lockdown last March.

The app owners said they believed the closure of council-run tips was partially responsible for the uptick in people reporting incidents on the app, which reached their peak in May.

People have been warned to ensure their household waste is taken away by a licensed company as householders can risk a fine if waste they get rid of ends up being fly-tipped by rogue traders.

Martin Montague, creator of ClearWaste, said: "The rate of increase in reports of fly-tipping is shocking. Britain is drowning under a sea of illegally dumped rubbish which blights our town, cities and countryside.

“Some of the fly-tipping will come from unscrupulous tradespeople, but much of it will come from rogue traders conning consumers.

"When people have DIY leftovers, garden waste or stuff they've found after a clear-out they often ask for recommendations on social media – but they shouldn't just hand their unwanted stuff to someone with a van who offers to remove it for them for a bit of cash.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Fly-tipping is completely unacceptable, and these cynical offenders need to know that councils are taking increasing action and that they face on-the-spot fines of £400 or up to five years in prison if convicted in court.

“We are committed to tackling waste crime even further, but there is more that we must all do. Everyone has a legal duty of care when handling waste, and all householders and businesses must ensure that they pass their waste to licensed carriers, as failure to do so could result in a £400 fine.”

A Leeds City council spokesperson said: “Although the flytipping statistics still come with a government health warning in terms of how fair it is to compare authorities, we are pleased to note that DEFRA’s analysis shows that Leeds is bucking the national trend and had 20% less flytipping incidents in 2019/20 than the previous year.

"We feel that represents the significant work done to encourage people to dispose of their waste responsibly and actions taken by the council to tackle those who persist in breaking the law by flytipping. The work done in the community by positive action groups such as Litter Free Leeds and Zero Waste Leeds also contributes towards the change in behaviours and challenges those who find excuses not to dispose of their waste through one of the many options available to them.

Our Cleaner Neighbourhoods Team will continue to work seven days a week to tackle the problem and remove many instances of fly-tipped waste, whether reported to us or not. We very much welcome the public providing evidence of anyone they catch in the act, which can be used to issue fines or prosecute fly-tipping criminals through the courts. Quite simply fly-tipping is a crime which has a significant impact on our communities and we will not tolerate it.”