Fly tipping is the illegal deposit of waste on land contrary to the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). Fly tipping ranges from black bag waste to large deposits of materials such as industrial waste, tyres and construction materials.
Fly tipping doesn’t just look unsightly: it blights the local environment, and can cause pollution, danger to health and a hazard to wildlife too. It also puts the workers who clear the litter at risk from traffic.
In March 2017, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) released national level data relating to fly tipping incident and actions taken for the period 2007/08 to 2015/16. The figures* make for shocking reading.
- National incidents – 8,359,399
- Clearance and enforcement costs – £585,345,245
Recently the A40 at Denham made national headlines when a section of Highways England land was the subject of a significant fly tipping incident.
Connect Plus Services (CPS) regularly deals with domestic fly tipping on its road network, removing items such as sofas, mattresses and fridges from its verges. More than 150,000 sacks of litter are collected by Highways England’s contractors every year as part of routine maintenance work – an average of 411 bags every day. It costs more than £40 to collect each sack – roughly the same cost as fixing a pothole – showing the real cost of antisocial behaviour like littering.
Fly tipping on an industrial scale, as seen on the A40, occurs when households and businesses allow criminals to remove their waste without carrying out the checks required by law. Landfill tax, which applies to all waste, has increased by around 4% since April 2015**.
Access to the site was compromised as a result of occupation by travellers and when CPS gained access, the scale of the fly tipping became apparent.
CPS operations and maintenance manager Shaun Moseley was one of the first to enter the land: “I’ve never seen such a volume of waste outside of an industrial waste or recycling plant.
“We undertake regular inspections of the network, and prior to the land’s occupation in March, we know this area was clean and clear. This vast mound of waste has been deposited in a matter of weeks.”
In an operation that took six men 10 days, the site was cleared of all waste, including a tonne of asbestos, classed as hazardous waste, at a cost of £135,000.
- 2,900 tonnes of rubbish
- 73 fridges
- 10 days to clear
Waste collected from illegal sites is checked for evidence of its origination. This means that legal action can be taken against the original owner of the waste, as well as the individuals tipping it illegally. Waste management is regulated under the EPA regulations, and offences are punishable with fines or prison terms at their maximum.
Shaun continues: “If you are disposing of waste, use a registered company. They will ensure your waste is disposed of properly and provide you with assurance that it won’t be left on the verge of a country lane or underneath a bridge.”
CPS has increased access protection at this site, along with 13 other sites across its road network that have been used for fly tipping incidents.
- Report fly tipping/illegal dumping: local council (https://www.gov.uk/report-flytipping)
- Report large scale illegal dumping and hazardous waste: Crimestoppers (0800 555 111)
*as recorded by local authorities, source DEFRA
**Landfill Tax Rates, standard rate, source HM Revenue & Customs