Fly tipping in Britain to reach ten-year high as bin collections cut

Fly tipping in Britain is set to reach ten-year high as bin collections are reduced by councils – with one million incidents reported last year alone

  • Local authorities reported 1,072,000 incidents in 2018 to 2019, up eight per cent 
  • Nearly two-thirds – 62 per cent – of fly-tipping cases involved household rubbish 
  • A third of dumps were the size of small van load, 30 per cent ‘car boot’ sized

Councils had to clear up more than a million incidents of fly-tipping last year in England, as figures show the problem continues to rise.

English local authorities reported 1,072,000 incidents in 2018 to 2019, up eight per cent on the 998,000 cases in 2017 to 2018, the latest statistics from the Environment Department (Defra) reveal.

Nearly two-thirds – 62 per cent –  of fly-tipping cases involved household rubbish, ranging from black bags to the debris from house and shed clearances, old furniture and carpets and waste from small-scale DIY projects.

Blight: Discarded items under an A40 bridge in Buckinghamshire reveals the scale of the problem

And waste was most commonly dumped on roads and pavements – accounting for almost half the incidents reported.

The vast majority of local authorities in the UK now only carry out bin collections every fortnight – which may have contributed to the rise in household waste fly tipped.

A third of all the incidents were the size of a small van load, with 30 per cent considered to be the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’, and single items such as mattresses or pieces of furniture made up just under a fifth.

Rubbish illegally dumped included tens of thousands of incidents of demolition and construction waste, white goods such as fridges, garden waste and electrical items.

David Rounding, waste enforcement officer with Buckinghamshire County Council, says the fly-tipping epidemic is due to the ‘greed and laziness of the British public’

Defra urged care over the data, as many local authorities have altered the way they capture and report fly-tips during the past few years.

But the statistics suggest the problem is on the rise, and risks returning to levels not seen for a decade.

The figures also no longer include an estimate of how much clearing up fly-tipping costs councils, apart from the small proportion of incidents which were classed as the size of a tipper lorry load or larger.

Hundreds of locals in Stockport, Greater Mancs, were forced to walk past a rotting pile of waste every day after a huge lorry dumped piles of rubbish onto the public in July

Items including electrical cables, plugs, circuit boards, children’s toys and even corporate waste can be seen piled up

Clearing up just these cases cost local authorities £12.9 million between 2018 and 2019 – up from £12.2 million in 2017 to 2018.

As part of efforts to tackle the problem, local authorities carried out almost half a million enforcement actions, ranging from investigations to issuing fixed penalties and pursuing prosecutions.

The number of penalty notices has continued to increase, up 11 per cent to 76,000 between 2018 and 2019, including fines for littering associated with fly-tipping and specifically for fly-tips.

In the last year many British councils have switched to fortnightly rubbish collections – only one council in six still collects rubbish from most of its households on a weekly basis.

Close to homes, the largest pile of rubbish in London was dumped near the site of the disused Pentavia Retail Park in Mill Hill

Fifteen areas collect every three weeks and homeowners in Falkirk in Scotland and Conwy in north Wales have to wait a month for the bin lorry to come round.

Research by the BBC earlier this year found at least 10 authorities switched to fortnightly rounds in the last year – or announced plans to do so – and that only 67 of 391 authorities in the UK still collect the majority of their households’ non-recyclable waste weekly.

The government said councils had a responsibility to collect waste regularly, but councils and industry figures have said the change saves money and improves recycling rates.

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