LGA - Councils reveal fly-tippers' worst excuses as clear-up costs rise

1 Aug 2016 01:30 PM

A ‘top 10 list' of worst excuses given by fly-tippers has been compiled by councils - who are being forced to spend nearly £50 million a year clearing it up.

One culprit claimed:

"I thought the green waste in the back of the van was on fire so I tipped it out but after I realised it wasn't on fire I couldn't put it back in the van as I had to collect my son from school!"

Another said:

"The waste fell off the back of my vehicle as I drove along …" An additional excuse given was: "I dropped my phone and there was so much rubbish in the car that I could hardly find it – I cleared the rubbish out so I could find the phone…" A further reason given was: "I know the person who works on the tip and they don't like me, so when I saw them working, I drove on…"

However, for councils, fly-tipping is no laughing matter and they are taking a zero-tolerance approach. The Joint Waste Partnership for Buckinghamshire, for example, comprising all the local authorities in the county, has secured 500 convictions in just over a decade. It is estimated this has resulted in net savings of around £2 million to the county council over the period, and up to a further million for the district councils, principally through reducing removal and disposal costs. 

Councils now have to deal with almost 900,000 incidents every 12 months. Latest figures show the number of recorded incidents has risen by almost six per cent for 2014/15 compared with 2013/14, while the clear-up costs increased by 11 per cent. Councils are carrying out over half a million enforcement actions every year, costing almost £18 million.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, has long called for the system for tackling unscrupulous fly-tippers to be overhauled.

In May (2016) new powers came into force allowing councils to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of up to £400 to help tackle small-scale fly-tipping, like dumping items such as pieces of broken furniture, old televisions and mattresses.

LGA Environment spokesman Cllr Peter Box said:

"The excuses some fly-tippers give when caught are laughable but for councils this issue is deadly serious. Councils are being forced to spend many millions on clearing up fly-tipping and taking enforcement action. At a time when councils have experienced substantial budget reductions, this is money which is being diverted from vital frontline services like caring for the elderly, and filling the nation's potholes.

"Not only does fly-tipping create an eyesore for residents, it is also a serious public health risk, creating pollution and attracting rats and other vermin. 

"Councils have a zero tolerance approach to fly-tipping and excuses like these are given short shrift.

"The Government has introduced new powers enabling councils to issue on-the-spot fines and this is an important step forward. However, there are a number of additional changes that would help tackle littering and fly-tipping, including sharing more of the responsibility with product producers – such as mattress and chewing gum manufacturers - to contribute to the costs of clear up.

"Councils use enforcement powers proportionately and take a range of different approaches to raise awareness and change culture. This includes providing advice and encouraging residents to report incidents and businesses to keep areas next to their premises clean and clear of litter and mess that can attract dumping."

the top 10 list of fly-tippers' excuses

  1. I paid a man with a van to take it
  2. "I thought the green waste in the back of the van was on fire so I tipped it out, after I realised it wasn't on fire I couldn't put it back in the van as I had to collect my son from school!"
  3. I met a man at the ‘dump' who said he wanted it – can't think why he then dumped it;rather than taking it back to the ‘dump…
  4. I dropped my phone and there was so much rubbish in the car that I could hardly find it – I cleared the rubbish out so I could find the phone…
  5. My van was untidy and I needed to give my boss a lift so I cleared the rubbish out because I know he doesn't like the van untidy…
  6. The waste fell off the back of my vehicle as I drove along …
  7. I saw other fly-tipped waste and thought the area was a recycling centre …
  8. It was my van, but I had lent it to this other man who is now not answering my calls… I think his name is Jim…
  9. I sold my vehicle to some people who were quite intimidating actually…
  10. I know the person who works on the tip and they don't like me, so when I saw them working, I drove on…

Case studies

Buckinghamshire

Offenders have paid thousands of pounds in fines and on average one fly-tipper is caught and convicted every week.

Croydon

The council has successfully prosecuted 112 people since launching the Don't Mess With Croydon – Take Pride campaign, which combines enforcement with encouraging over 300 locals to lead community litter picks.

Hull

Over 4,500 reports of fly-tipping have been made over the past year with 1,200 enforcement notices.

Stoke

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has launched a new taskforce to tackle fly-tipping.

General background

  • Fly-tipping statistics
    Local authorities dealt with a total of 900,000 incidents of fly-tipping in 2014/15, an increase of 5.6 per cent since 2013/14. The estimated cost of clearance of fly-tipping to local authorities in England in 2014/15 was nearly £50 million, an 11 per cent increase on 2013/14. Local authorities carried out nearly 515,000 enforcement actions at an estimated cost of £17.6 million in 2014/15
  • Fixed penalty notices background
  • The range of fly-tipping FPN fines