Tougher sentences are needed to deter the “blight” of fly-tipping littering the countryside, local councils warn, as new analysis reveals low penalty fines despite a surge in reports.
Incidents of fly-tipping soared by 50 per cent in the six years since new guidelines were brought in, at a clean-up cost of £58m a year, the Local Government Association warns.
But as it reveals that just five per cent of court-imposed fines were over £1,000, it calls for a review over sentencing guidelines alongside greater funding to investigate and prosecute.
“Fly-tipping is not only an illegal, inexcusable and ugly blight on society, it is a serious public health risk,” said LGA environment spokesman, Coun David Renard. “Councils are determined to crack down on the problem and have increased enforcement activity, including installing CCTV at fly-tipping hotspots to support successful prosecutions.
“However, prosecuting fly-tippers often requires time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof.
“Tougher sentences are needed to act as a stronger deterrent to criminals dumping waste.”
There were nearly 100,000 fly-tipping incidents in Yorkshire in the past year, Defra statistics released in November show, an annual rise of 13 per cent.
But amid reports of just 492 incidents on agricultural land, farming insurers had warned that this does not reflect the true scale of the problem, claiming most cases on private land are still going unreported and leaving farmers to foot the clean-up bill.
Among the waste dumped in Yorkshire incidents over recent months were children’s toys, a vacuum cleaner, wallpaper, sofas, carpets and mattresses.
In Beverley, a man was fined £500 in November after being caught on camera by witnesses discarding rubbish from a trailer before driving off. In Hull, a fly-tipper was given an eight-week suspended sentence after dumping furniture on a country lane, when he had been paid to clear waste as a removal man.
There has been a rise in council action, the LGA says, with prosecutions at their highest level since 2011. But because of rising demand on council’s legal duties, the representative body adds, there is less money available for discretionary powers such as issuing fines.
“This is why we want to work with the Government on reviewing sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, so offenders are given bigger fines for more serious offences, and ensure councils have the funding needed to investigate incidents,” said Coun Renard.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Fly tipping is an unacceptable blight on our environment. We’re cracking down on it. We have given local authorities greater powers to tackle this behaviour by issuing on-the-spot fines to offenders as well as introducing new fixed penalty notices of up to £400 for householders who pass their waste to a fly tipper.
“Our action against fly-tipping is delivering results, with total fines increased by 29 per cent to over £1m. But I am clear that more must be done to stop these criminals. That is why our Resources and Waste Strategy includes a commitment to strengthen sentencing for fly-tipping.”