Fly-tipping is a problem for many land owners, with the illegal practice occurring up and down the country. People frequently use farm land as a dumping ground illegally instead of using authorised methods of waste disposal. To help those suffering from fly tippers, agricultural insurance providers Lycetts have created this guide on how to reduce the chances of fly-tipping, as well as what you can do if it is already happening.
Fly-tipping is the act of disposing of rubbish or large items on land that isn’t licensed to receive waste.
Bags of rubbish, construction waste, mattresses, beds, tyres, garden waste: all sorts of things can constitute fly-tipping.
The Daily Telegraph reported on the findings of a freedom of information request by ITV regarding the problem of fly-tipping in the UK. Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton went as far as to say that the crime has reached “crisis levels” throughout the country.
The Daily Telegraph drew this conclusion from findings that the problem has increased by over a fifth year-on-year in some regions. For example, almost 40,000 reported incidents 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.
Although fly-tipping has dropped in some parts of the country, the problem is far from over. In Birmingham, for instance, the number of fly-tipping cases are down by 13 per cent between November 2015 and December 2016. However, the figure during this period was still recorded at 21,000 offences.
“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,” Ms Ogden-Newton stated.
Fly-tipping is a major issue for Scotland in particular, says James Cuthbertson, an account executive at Lycetts. Near to 61,000 fly-tipping incidents are recorded in this country every single year, Mr Cuthbertson has found.
He adds: “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.”
Processes are in place to try and deter would-be fly tippers.
The BBC released prosecution figures of 1,602 for acts of fly-tipping carried out across England between 2016 and 2017. What’s more, 98 per cent of prosecutions made resulted in a conviction. During the same time period, councils across England served 56,000 fixed penalty notices in regard to cases of fly-tipping.
Those caught fly-tipping can expect to face a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine and up to five years in prison. 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.
But, Mr Cuthbertson points out that current penalties are not wholly effective: “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.”
If fly-tipping happens to you
Any rubbish or waste on your private property is your responsibility, and this unfortunately includes fly-tipping.
However, be cautious of fly-tipping waste on your land, as it may be dangerous or hazardous. Therefore, 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.
Secondly, record everything you can of the incident. This includes where you located the waste, as well as taking photographs if possible. After all details have been recorded, report the case of fly-tipping to your local authority:
- Those in England and Wales should head to this GOV.UK page and report fly-tipping by first entering the postcode where the waste has been discovered.
- Those in Scotland should report fly-tipping waste by either filling in a simple online form on DumbDumpers.org or contacting Stopline directly by calling 0845 2 30 40 90.
- Those in Northern Ireland should head to gov.uk and find details for their local council, who will be able to advise on the waste disposal sites and recycling centres based nearby for the safe and legal recycling or disposal of unwanted items.
Once reported, find a way to secure the fly-tipped waste to prevent any further addition or interference.
Be aware that there are processes in place for taking the waste away. First and foremost, do not take the waste 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 then disposed of by someone who is licensed to deal with hazardous waste.
If you need someone else to transport the waste away, make sure they leave you the right paperwork. It should include details about the waste and those who are taking it away. 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.
Mr Cuthbertson says: “In the event you wake one morning to find the midnight cowboys have paid you a visit, if the problem is severe, it is worth consulting with your insurance broker. 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.”
If you witness fly-tipping actively taking place, stay safe. As the practice is illegal, people are unlikely to take kindly to their crime being observed. Do not confront the guilty parties, but instead immediately call 999 and then make a note the number of people involved, descriptions of their appearances, details about the waste being fly-tipped and information about any vehicles used — this includes the makes of the vehicles, their colours and their registration numbers if you can make it out.
How you can protect your land from fly-tipping
The ideal way of dealing with fly-tipping is to prevent it from happening.
Installing gates around your land and keeping them locked when not in use will restrict access. Strategically placing physical barriers around the perimeter will make it difficult for vehicles to get through — think earth bunds, boulders and tree trunks placed closely to each other around your land.
The fear of being caught will keep would-be fly tippers away too. Therefore, work on improving visibility all around your property and its land, make 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.