Dealing with and preventing fly-tipping
Louise Richardson writing on behalf of Lycetts: Fly-tipping is a large problem for many across the UK — not only for private residents, but also for corporations. We know that the problem exists, but few people know what to do about it when it happens to them.
Leaving large volumes of waste on land that is not licensed to take it and that you do not have authorisation for is fly-tipping. There are many items that fall under the banner of fly-tipping, including tyres, mattresses, beds, garden waste, multiple bin bags filled with rubbish, and great amounts of waste that has come from construction activities.
So, what can you do about this safety and environmental hazard? To help you deal with fly-tipping on your land, this guide from farm estate insurance providers, Lycetts, will take you through the ways you can handle fly-tipping and prevent it reoccurring.
How much of an issue is fly-tipping in the UK?
Almost 40,000 reported incidents of fly-tipping were recorded in the North London district of Haringey between November 2015 and December 2016, with more than 30,000 incidents also reported in Manchester over the same period (according to a report detailed in The Daily Telegraph). Overall, fly-tipping incidents have increased by over a 20% year-on-year across some council regions.
Experts firmly believe that fly-tipping is a growing problem that needs dealing with immediately. Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, stated that: "Fly-tipping is an epidemic, it's reached crisis levels and something needs to be done about it. Local authorities are overwhelmed with instances of criminal fly-tipping and we need to address this urgently."
Despite some positive results regarding fly-tipping, statistics suggest that we still have a lot of work to do if we want to significantly reduce fly-tipping numbers. For example, in Birmingham, the number of fly-tipping cases were down by 13% between November 2015 and December 2016. However, there were still 21,000 offences during this period.
And the news worsens for residents and property owners in Scotland, according to James Cuthbertson. The account executive at Lycetts found that almost 61,000 fly-tipping incidents are recorded in this country every year. He points out: “The culprits tend to think of this practice as a victimless crime; but estimates put the cost to Scottish tax payers at £8.9 million a year to clear and dispose of tipped rubbish from council land. Farmers and other countryside custodians must meet the cost of clearing rubbish from private land themselves, at an average of £1,000 a time.”
Statistics around fly-tipping
We know that fly-tipping is considered a criminal offence, which brings us to the questions: how seriously do police take it, and what are the repercussions? According to BBC figures, between 2016 and 2017, councils across England served 56,000 fixed-penalty notices for fly-tipping. Also during this time period, a total of 1,602 prosecutions for fly-tipping were carried out, with 98% of prosecutions resulting in a conviction.
But is this enough to deter fly-tipping criminals?
What happens to people who fly-tip?
As a criminal act, anyone who is found guilty of fly-tipping can face substantial repercussions — including an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment! However, it is also important to note that those who permit fly-tipping to take place on their land or any land that they rent will also be committing a fly-tipping offence.
Although, many people remain sceptical about how well these penalties are enforced and the number of fly-tippers who get away with their crime. According to Cuthbertson: “Fines of up to £40,000 can be imposed but, given budgetary constraints, the pursuit of fly-tippers is well down the list of priorities of councils and the police. Furthermore, it is hard to gather evidence to bring a successful prosecution.”
What to do if you’re a victim of fly-tipping
Unfortunately, you will be responsible if somebody dumps their rubbish illegally on your property. So, it’s important to know how to get rid of this quickly and correctly, as well as how you can prevent it happening.
The first step you must take when it comes to fly-tipping is determining whether the waste is dangerous or not. If you suspect it is hazardous, don’t touch it. For example; bags and drums should not be opened and piles of soil should be a cause for alarm bells as the material could be contaminated or hiding dangerous material.
Next, get a pen and paper or use your laptop to log all details about the incident — such as where you located it on your land. Take photographs for extra evidence. After all details have been recorded, report the case of fly-tipping to your local authority:
- For Northern Irish residents: nidirect.gov.uk.
- For Scottish residents: simple online form on DumbDumpers.org or use Stopline by calling 08452 30 40 90.
- For English residents: this GOV.UK page.
Now, you can either remove the waste — if it is safe — or try to cordon off the area to keep the public safe. When it comes to removing the waste, do not take it to a licensed site yourself unless you’re registered as a waste carrier. If hazardous waste has been identified, it should only be carried and disposed of by someone who is licensed to deal with it.
When the appropriate waste removal operator arrives, this doesn’t mean your job is done. Make sure to get appropriate documentation — it should include details about the waste and those who are taking it away — and keep all information about clearance and disposal costs safe, as these can be recovered in the event a successful prosecution is made against the crime committed.
What about if you see fly-tipping happening on your land? The first rule is never approach someone who is fly-tipping — these are criminals and you don’t know how they will react. Instead, immediately call 999 and then make a note the number of people involved, their appearances, details about the waste, and information about any vehicles used.
What about when it comes to your property’s cover? Cuthbertson added: “Most farm combined policies will cover the cost of removal and disposal, less an excess. In the event of a major fly-tipping incident, you could be very glad the cover is in place.”
Preventing fly-tipping on your land
Prevention is better than a cure, and this adage is true when it comes to fly-tipping. It’s far better to make your property secure and reduce the risk of fly-tipping than it is to have to deal with the mess afterwards. Try installing gates that are always closed and locked when not in use to help restrict access to your property, and place physical barriers around the perimeter so that vehicles are unable to get through — think earth mounds, boulders and tree trunks placed closely to each other around your land. Also, work on improving visibility all around your property and its land. This includes making sure high-quality exterior lighting is installed and in working condition, and set up CCTV cameras and appropriate signs alerting people of the technology’s presence.
Hopefully, you won’t be a victim of fly-tipping. However, following these instructions will help you deal with the problem, should it occur.
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