Footage caught man fly-tipping at Small Heath in Birmingham
Local authorities dealt with 1.13 million cases of rubbish dumped on highways and in beauty spots in 2020-21, up 16 per cent from 980,000 the previous year. However, the number of fines handed down by courts to offenders fell by more than half, to just 1,313, from 2,672 in 2019-20. New financial penalties have come into force to crack down on fly-tipping.
The majority of householders already dispose of their waste responsibly, however any householder who fails to pass their waste to a licensed carrier, and whose waste is found fly-tipped, could face penalties of up to £400.
The Government has also issued guidance to ensure councils use these new powers proportionately, which makes clear penalties should not be used as a means of raising money and should not be issued for minor breaches.
Explaining the data, the Government noted that last year’s figures covered the first national lockdown imposed in March 2020, which impacted many local authority recycling programmes.
Some councils suspended collection of dry recycling, while others also paused garden and bulky waste collection.
There were also widespread closures of household waste recycling centres, although many later reopened following updates to social distancing guidance.
Local authorities dealt with over 1 million cases of fly tipping last year
Warning signs fail to deter fly tipping
Household waste accounted for 65 per cent of the incidents, about the same proportion as 2020-21.
Debris was most commonly dumped on pavements and roads, making up 485 of every 1,000 cases, followed by footpaths and bridleways at 198 in every 1,000, the Government said.
London was the dirtiest area, with 43 fly-tipping incidents per 1,000 people, followed by the North East at 31.
By contrast, the South West was the cleanest, with 10 cases per 1,000 people.
Less bin collections have been blamed for the rise
Dumping is also happening in towns and cities
Clearing up all the large fly-tipping incidents cost local authorities in England £11.6 million, up from £10.9 million the previous year.
The Country Land and Business Association, which represents rural businesses in England and Wales, remarked that the figures probably told only half the story, as they covered only fly-tipping on public land.
It said the “vast majority” of fly-tipping occurs on private land, with one of its members facing a £100,000 bill to clear up just one incident.
Mark Tufnell, the president of the association, said: “Fly-tipping continues to wreck the lives of many of us living and working in the countryside, and significant progress needs to be made to stop it.”
He added: “It’s not just the odd bin bag but large household items, from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.
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Many fly tippers head outside the city to dispose of rubbish
Speaking to The Telegraph, David Renard, the environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said that fly-tipping was inexcusable, causing an eyesore for residents, a health risk and costing taxpayers £50 million a year to clean up.
He added: “Councils have done what they can during the extremely challenging circumstances of the pandemic to crack down on fly-tippers, which has led to staff shortages and court closures during lockdowns.”
Barnet Borough has a 10 day waiting list to dump rubbish legally
However, in spite of the lockdown being lifted, residents are still struggling to manage their waste legally.
Current rules mean that residents of one London borough must book a slot at a recycling centre to dispose of their waste.
To drive a self-hire van and dump rubbish in the borough of Barnet requires booking a slot up to 10 days in advance.
The length has resulted in some individuals finding alternative methods of disposing of their rubbish, including fly-tipping.
The North London Waste Authority has been contacted by Express.co.uk for further comment.