People sentenced to community service for dumping waste will be told to help councils clean up, under government plans reported.
Clearing 936,090 reported cases of fly-tipping in England in 2015/2016 cost councils £49.8m, according to data from the Environment Department (Defra).
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “The Government now wants to see more of those committing crimes like this taking responsibility for cleaning up the community by picking up litter and illegally dumped waste themselves.”
Fresh guidance would also be issued to councils reminding them it is illegal to charge DIY enthusiasts to dispose of household waste at the tip.
Current guidance outlaws the fees but there are concerns some councils are charging £4 a bag for soil or waste from home renovations, it was reported.
Ms Leadsom said: “Charging local residents for doing the responsible thing and taking their household waste to the tip is not only unfair and unacceptable, but could also be a lead factor in the reported increases in fly-tipping.”
She also warned that councils face tough new rules to stop them illegally charging householders for disposing of waste. Increases in charges for council-run dumps and recycling centres have been blamed for driving up fly-tipping.
The Department for the Environment (Defra) said it plans to issue fresh guidance to ‘remind’ councils that forcing people to pay to dispose of household rubbish is illegal.
The law states that local authorities cannot charge residents for disposing of their household waste at public tips. But many get around these rules by describing DIY materials as ‘non-household’ waste so they can apply charges.
Last month, councils across England reported 936,090 cases of fly-tipping in 2015/16 – up by four per cent on the previous year – and according to Defra it now costs councils £50 million a year to clear up rubbish.
Councils have also been criticised for increasing charges for waste removal services.
Environment charity Keep Britain Tidy said gangs of ‘unregistered waste carriers’ have been exploiting the price rises by offering to pick up rubbish ‘on the cheap’ and then dumping it illegally.
A report last week found that councils were facing almost a million cases of fly-tipping a year.
Local authority waste collection services are being cut, leading to criminals offering to dispose of waste at knockdown prices. They then dump it illegally.
Samantha Harding, litter programme director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “We hope these proposals are the roots of a strategy that will all but eradicate fly-tipping for good.
“They reward good intentions to dispose of waste and rubbish responsibly, and should deter people from thinking they can get away with trashing the countryside.
“As the wider litter strategy develops, we must remember that fly-tipping often happens on private land.
“We need to do more to protect those in the countryside who have to pay the clean-up costs of someone else’s selfishness.”
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) warns that Defra’s figures do not tell the whole story, pointing out that private landowners are often left to foot the bill when rubbish is dumped on their land.