This Commons Library briefing paper gives a general overview of the extent of the problem of fly-tipping in England and the powers and responsibilities of the Environment Agency, local authorities and landowners to deal with it. It also sets out recent Government actions to tackle it and proposals for reform.Jump to full report >>
As waste is a devolved issue, this briefing paper focuses on England, unless otherwise specified. Information on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be provided to Members and their staff on an enquiry by enquiry basis.
Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of household, industrial, commercial or other 'controlled' waste without a waste management licence. The waste can be liquid or solid. Fly-tipping is not the same as littering. More information on litter can be found in the Library Briefing Paper on Litter.
The most recent Government Fly-tipping statistics for England, 2016/17, show that:
Local authorities and the Environment Agency have legal powers to require landowners to clear fly-tipped waste from their land. They also have powers to enter the land and clear it, and may seek reimbursement for costs related to it.
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. There are also a number of other possible penalties, including fixed penalty notices and having a vehicle seized.
Concern has been raised about the costs involved to private landowners of clearing fly tipped waste from their land and several campaigns have been launched calling for change in this area. The Government has said that it does not intend to change the law here.
Government plans for reform
The Government has concerns about the situation where householders allow an unauthorised person to take their waste away, and where the waste is then fly-tipped. In January 2018 it published a consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector & introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care.
Further proposals related to fly tipping are expected in a forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.
Commons Briefing papers SN05672
Authors: Louise Smith; Sara Priestley; Alison Pratt