Fly tipping and illegal waste dumping


Many farmers in the North East will have suffered from illegally dumped rubbish at some point in their careers, or at least been affected by its visual impact in laybys and tracks.

Recently released figures reveal that there were 900,000 incidents of such fly tipping in England in 2014/15. However, this total only covers recorded incidents on public land, so the problem is a great deal bigger.

£50m was the estimated cost for local authorities to clean up the mess, but there are no figures available covering the cost to the private sector. To me, this is significant criminal activity which should generate a suitable response from the authorities. However, it appears to be virtually a risk free crime. Many cases were investigated, which led to the sending of 75,000 “Warning Letters” – ouch! There were only about 1500 prosecutions leading to a fine.

Prosecutions are expensive so it is understandable why there are so few, but the situation should improve from next year. It is reported that new regulations will be introduced next spring which will allow local authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for fly-tipping. This would seem to be rather more of a deterrent than a warning letter, and may help fund part of the clean up costs.

Better news is that new regulations, which came into force on 30th October, should make it much easier for the Environment Agency to curtail the activities of criminal waste management operators. The traditional scam was “tyre recycling”, where plausible rogue would take a lease on a large building, often an agricultural building, from which to run a tyre recycling facility. Innocent garage operators would pay the “recycler” to remove the old tyres, which would then simply be stock piled.

Once the site was at capacity, the waste recycler would do a midnight flit, leaving the landowner with a very expensive problem to clear up. A more recent version of the scam involved old carpets, with one infamous site in the region mysteriously catching fire, leading to significant air and water pollution.

While all landlords should still be very aware of the possibility of such scams being attempted, it is now a great deal simpler for the Environment Agency to revoke the waste operator’s permit as soon as it becomes clear that all is not as it should be. While this change wont totally cure the problem, it should reduce the impact on vigilant landowners.

If you would like any further information or to discuss any rural related matter, please contact Tom Wills, head of the agriculture & estates department at Sintons.


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