Throughout the UK, the illegal practice of fly tipping is evident. In fact, many lawbreakers are using farm land as their go-to place to dump waste illegally instead of taking it to an authorised method. Agricultural insurance providers, Lycetts, has prepared the following guide to help those who have seen their land become a site for fly tipping. It informs you on what you can do, as well as steps you can take to reduce the chance of the act occurring in the first place:
What is fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is an illegal act of dumping rubbish or large items on an area that isn’t licensed to receive it. There are many items which can be defined under the banner of fly-tipping, including a bin bag filled with rubbish, tyres, waste which has come from construction activities, mattresses, beds and garden waste.
How frequent is fly-tipping?
The Daily Telegraph has highlighted exactly how bad fly-tipping has become across Britain following ITV News’s freedom of information request. Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton went as far as saying that the crime has reached “crisis levels” throughout the country.
The Daily Telegraph reached this conclusion after they found that fly-tipping incidents have increased by over 20% year-on-year across some of the country’s council 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.
Some parts of the country did record a drop in fly-tipping incidents, but there is still a long way to go if they are to get rid of the problem entirely. 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.
Ms Ogden-Newton said: “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.”
Scotland is one area that is facing major fly-tipping problems, according to 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 added: “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.”
Number of fly-tipping prosecutions
It’s welcoming to see that efforts are being made to try to deter people from fly-tipping.
Figures obtained from the BBC found that there was a total of 1,602 prosecutions for fly-tipping 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 regards to cases of fly-tipping.
Penalties for fly-tipping
With fly-tipping being deemed a serious criminal offence, if you are caught, you may face an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment. 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.
However, Mr Cuthbertson acknowledges: “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
If it’s on your private property, you should be aware that it’s your responsibility to move it – even if you’ve been a victim of fly-tipping. When you first notice fly-tipped waste on your land though, be sure to exercise caution as the waste may be 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.
Instead, try to record every detail possible regarding the waste you’ve discovered. 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 you have reported the fly-tipping waste, you should look to secure the waste so nobody can interfere or add to it. There are also a number of steps to take when the waste is taken 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.
You must make sure you receive appropriate documentation if someone else removes the waste. 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.
“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,” Mr Cuthbertson adds. “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 taking place, make sure you 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 can you protect your land from becoming a scene of fly-tipping?
There are a number of ways you can reduce the risk of your land becoming a target for fly-tipping. Installing gates that are always closed and locked when not in use will help to restrict access to your property and its land, as will strategically placing physical barriers around the perimeter so that vehicles are unable to get through — think earth bunds, boulders and tree trunks placed closely to each other around your land.
If criminals believe there’s a high risk of being caught, they’ll be deterred from fly-tipping on your land. 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.