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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL1770, tabled on 24 February 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what increase there has been in fly-tipping in the last five years; what estimate they have made of the cost of dealing with any such increase; what assessment they have made of any link between fly-tipping and criminal gangs; and what new measures they are proposing to address fly-tipping.

Answered on

6 March 2020

Defra publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England, with the most recent publication on 7 November 2019 detailing the number of fly-tipping incidents reported by local authorities in the year to 31 March 2019. These can be found at The statistics show that incidents of fly-tipping have gradually increased over the last five years, albeit with a decrease reported between 2016/17 and 2017/18. The 2018/19 figures reported an increase of 8% from 2017/18. However, this most recent increase in recorded incidents does not necessarily mean the number of fly-tipping incidents has increased. Local authorities have reported that as they make it easier for citizens to report fly-tipping, for example through mobile apps, they see an increase in the number of incidents recorded.

Since 2017/18 we have changed the way that we present the costs of dealing with fly-tipping. The standard unit costs used for the majority of clearance and enforcement categories in previous statistical releases are now more than 10 years out of date. Defra therefore took the decision to cease using these costs from the 2017/18 fly-tipping statistical release onwards and total cost estimates for fly-tipping clearance and enforcement are not currently produced. However, we do report the clearance costs for ‘tipper lorry load’ and ‘significant/multi load’ incident categories, and enforcement costs for ‘prosecutions’, as these are reported directly by local authorities.

In 2018/19, 3% of all fly-tipping incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger, compared with 4% in 2017/18. This is consistent with the 3% of these incidents reported in 2014/15. The cost of clearance to local authorities in England have shown an increase however, costing £12.9 million in 2018/19, compared with £12.2 million in 2017/18 and £7.3 million in 2014/15.

Local authorities carried out a total of 2,397 prosecutions for fly-tipping offences in England in 2018/19, an increase of 7% on 2017/18 and 32% on 2014/15. Costs of prosecution actions have subsequently increased, from £288,037 in 2014/15 to £1,002,000 in 2018/19. The success rates for prosecution actions against fly-tipping are consistently above 95% and have been since records began in 2007/08.

In 2018, Defra commissioned a review into serious and organised criminality in the waste sector. This considered the operation of organised criminal gangs in the waste industry, including in relation to illegal dumping and fly-tipping. The recommendations of this review were included within our Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS), published in December 2018, which set out an ambitious package of commitments to modernise the way waste is regulated, in order to prevent, detect, and deter waste crime, including fly-tipping. In recent years, we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping and we committed to further reforms in the RWS.

We are taking forward the commitment in the RWS to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker, and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. At the same time, we intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. This will reduce the ability of waste criminals to hide evidence of the systematic mishandling of waste and make it easier for enforcement authorities to identify material dropping out of the system, and therefore make it easier to protect against fly-tipping.

The Environment Bill provides a significant step forward in delivering a number of the commitments set out in the RWS. The provisions in the Environment Bill will work to ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.

Defra has previously worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for fly-tipping offences and will continue this work to help to secure tougher penalties in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment.

As well as legislative changes, Defra is developing a fly-tipping toolkit, following a commitment in the RWS. The toolkit will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover, for example, the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and promoting the duty of care to individuals and businesses.