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Combatting Fly Tipping

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As the cost of living has bitten, the crime of fly tipping has also increased as more and more people, rather than paying the disposal costs of removing waste though legitimate means, dump it on the fields, tracks, gateways and woodlands of our countryside. From March 2022 to March 2023, over a 1 million incidents of fly tipping were reported with the majority being farmers affected and burdened by the cost of removing another’s waste for the benefit of the community. The true number is likely greater as a larger number of incidents are unreported as landowners are aware they will be required to clean up the mess regardless; fly tipping is truly a crime where the polluter does not pay.

Fly tipping poses a threat to public health and the environment with the possibility of potentially hazardous materials being dumped such as asbestos, and so the clean up costs can be substantial. In the worst-case scenario, a tipper lorry can be used to dump a tremendous amount of waste. It is essential to mitigate the impact the impact of fly tipping and therefore, it is recommended your property insurance includes cover for the cost of fly tipping.

However, clearly for the landowner prevention is better than any cure in the case of waste crime. Fly tippers require access from the road and isolation to unload their waste with minimal chances of being caught. Therefore, the NFU recommends the installation of practical barriers and gates to prevent such access. Such investment will also help deter other forms of rural crime. However, you will need to ensure you are not blocking public or private rights of way because of your measures.

The installation of CCTV in vulnerable areas will also help deter fly tippers and increase the chances of enforcement and the recovery of costs if a third party tips in the area. Where the third party can be identified, which unfortunately is quite rare, there is a potential to recover the costs of removal and disposal. Otherwise the burden of the clean up rests with the land owner.

Identification will also help improve the chances of the perpetrator facing criminal sanction. Those responsible for the offence of illegally disposing controlled waste may face an unlimited fine and/or up to 6 months in prison, if convicted in the Magistrates Court; and an unlimited fine, and or up to 5 years in prison if convicted in the Crown Court. The Court also has the power to order the offender to pay the costs associated with the case and the clean-up costs. The maximum amount fly tippers could be charged through a fixed penalty notice, the most common form of punishment, has increased to £1000 from £400. It is hoped that this will finally start to reduce the numbers of this opportunistic crime and reduce the burden on local farmers.

If you have any queries, or wish to discuss this or any other matter, please contact our legal team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors on 01653 600070.