The fly-tipping curse

Latest government figures show more than one million fly-tipping incidents last year, revealing an issue blighting rural communities across the country.

Fly-tipping example. Sofa dumped in a field.
Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

Defra statistics, revealed that councils dealt with 1.08 million fly-tipping incidents in 2022/2023. These figures however, only account for waste illegally dumped on public land that has been reported to the authorities. More often, fly-tipping occurs on privately-owned land which if included would reveal the true nature of the financial burden and environmental impact. According to the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) South East, the figures do not show the ‘mass scale’ of dumping on private land such as farms.

The figures also show that the number of fixed penalty notices issued was 73,000 in 2022/23, a decrease of 19% from 91,000 in 2021/22 raising just £785,000 which is considerably lower that the reported cost of clearing the largest illegal tips at £13.2m.

Farmers and landowners currently have to bear the burden of the cost of removing rubbish and pay on average £1,000 to remove waste or risk facing prosecution themselves.

Fly-tipping is not just question of litter horridly tarnishing the landscape, but the dumped waste is often hazardous, including asbestos and chemicals, endangering wildlife, livestock, people and the environment.

  • For the 2022/23 year, local authorities in England dealt with 1.08 million fly-tipping incidents, a decrease of 1% from the 1.09 million reported in 2021/22.
  • In 2022/23, 60% of fly-tips involved household waste. Total incidents involving household waste were 653,000 in 2022/23, a decrease of 3% from 671,000 incidents in 2021/22.
  • The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways (pavements and roads), which accounted for two fifths (40%) of total incidents in 2022/23. In 2022/23, the number of highway incidents was 433,000, which was a decrease of 7% from 464,000 in 2021/22.
  • The most common size category for fly-tipping incidents in 2022/23 was equivalent to a ‘small van load’ (31% of total incidents), followed by the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’ (27%).
  • In 2022/23, 42,000 or around 4% of total incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger, which is an increase of 13% from 37,000 in 2021/22. For these large fly-tipping incidents, the cost of clearance to local authorities in England in 2022/23 was £13.2 million, compared with £10.7 million in 2021/22.
  • Local authorities carried out 536,000 enforcement actions in 2022/23, an increase of 29,000 actions (6%) from 507,000 in 2021/22.
  • The number of fixed penalty notices issued was 73,000 in 2022/23, a decrease of 19% from 91,000 in 2021/22. This is the second most common action after investigations and accounted for 14% of all actions in 2022/23.
  • The average court fine has increased from £466 in 2021/22 to £526 in 2022/23. The total number of court fines decreased by 17% from 1,798 in 2021/22 to 1,491 in 2022/23, with the combined value of these fines decreasing by 6% from £837,000 to £785,000.