Farming News - £400 fines for householders who fail to ensure their waste is not fly-tipped

£400 fines for householders who fail to ensure their waste is not fly-tipped

28 Nov 2018
Frontdesk / Finance

The Government is stepping up its fight against rogue ‘man-with-a-van’ waste carriers who fly-tip.

Householders have a legal ‘duty of care’ to ensure they only give their waste to a licensed carrier. New financial penalties of up to £400 for householders who fail to properly exercise this responsibility, and whose waste is found fly-tipped, have moved a step closer as legislation is laid in Parliament.

Potential fly-tipping by rogue operators, and the risk of a penalty, can be simply avoided by using certified waste carriers, which can be checked easily by visiting the Environment Agency’s website, where you can enter the business name or registration number to immediately confirm their status as an approved company.

The Government has also issued guidance to ensure councils use these new powers proportionately and make clear fines should not be used as a means of raising revenue. To strike the right balance householders should not be fined for minor breaches, and the guidance also stresses that consideration should be given if the individual is a vulnerable person due to age related ill-health or a mental or physical disability.

The new penalties, which are expected to come into force early next year, will make it easier for councils to tackle fly-tipping and provide an alternative to putting cases through the courts which can be a lengthy and costly process.

In 2016-17 clearing up fly-tipping incidents cost councils in England £57.7 million, with around two thirds of all fly-tipped waste containing household waste.

Latest figures show our tough actions to crack down on fly-tippers are delivering results, with no increase in the number of incidents for the first time in five years.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said:

“Fly-tipping is an unacceptable blight on our landscapes. Many people do not realise they have a legal duty to look up waste carriers and we want councils to step up and inform their residents.

“We must all take responsibility and make sure our waste does not end up in the hands of criminals who will wilfully dump it and these new powers will help us to crack down on rogue waste carriers.”

To tackle the potential over-zealous enforcement on households, in 2015 the Government removed criminal penalties for breaches of household bin requirements in favour of a new civil penalty system.

Councils were urged to use letters or notices on bins to remind households of appropriate practices, and this measured and balanced approach, set out in further guidance produced earlier this year, continues to allow councils to focus their efforts on the small minority who cause genuine harm to the local environment through irresponsible behaviour.

The move comes as the government publishes the response to its consultation on tackling poor performance in the waste sector more widely. New measures include a requirement for all waste facilities to have a written management plan to minimise the risks of pollution to the environment, and making it harder for applicants with relevant past offences to obtain a permit to operate a waste facility.

The involvement of serious and organised criminal gangs in the waste sector appears to be increasing, and these gangs are often involved in large-scale dumping. Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently commissioned an independent review into organised crime in the waste sector. Recommendations from the review will be considered as part of the forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy where we will set out our approach to tackling all forms of waste crime.

The CLA supports the fines but says more resources must go into enforcement to crack down on industrial size fly-tipping which is blighting the countryside.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “It is easy to blame householders for the significant rise in fly-tipping but we’re seeing more and more waste on an industrial-size scale dumped across the countryside. Part of the problem is council fees putting people off lawful disposal at the local tip but it is also businesses not complying with existing waste disposal regulations. The costs and process of getting a waste transfer licence prevents legal disposal and encourages organised crime.

“Introducing a fixed penalty notice for householders who pass their waste on to unauthorised waste carriers is a welcome deterrent towards reducing this anti-social behaviour but it is just the tip of the iceberg. To really tackle the crime, raising awareness of the risks of being caught and increasing the number of meaningful prosecutions are the right methods that will bring about real change to encourage people to do the right thing and dispose of their rubbish through proper legal channels.

“Without better understanding from the public and the right legal deterrents in place, fly-tipping will continue to increase exponentially and further blight the countryside.”