The Law on Fly Tipping
With local authorities aiming to minimise expenditures and encourage recycling in households, rubbish collections have become less regular throughout the country, with the majority of areas seeing fortnightly pick-ups. Although this has increased the amount of materials that are recycled, and certainly improved the costs for local authorities, there has also been an increase in fly-tipping. This is an illegal offence that refers to the dumping of rubbish in unauthorised areas.
The following article explains the laws relating to fly-tipping, the penalties for offenders who are caught and the ways in which the police are able to prove and prosecute people who commit fly-tipping offences.
What is fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is the term given to the illegal dumping or disposal of rubbish and waste by those who do not hold a valid licence. The term covers a variety of different types of illegal waste disposals, such as dumping a single bin bag at the side of the road to disposing of masses of industrial waste in an unauthorised area or way.
The legislation that covers fly-tipping may not be considered as entirely straightforward but can be primarily sourced in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, with amendments made in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
Is fly-tipping a criminal offence?
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence and can be carried out by both an individual with domestic waste or a company with commercial waste. The law outlines that an offence will have been committed if any of the following occurs:
- Waste is deposited on land without a waste management licence, or waste is caused to be or allowed to deposit on such land
- Waste is kept, treated or disposed of on land without the valid waste management licence
- Waste is kept, treated or disposed of in ways which are likely to cause pollution or harm the health of humans.
If controlled waste is not disposed of correctly, an offence of fly-tipping will have been committed. Controlled waste refers to:
- General domestic and household waste
- Household items such as furniture, electrical appliances and beds
- Waste from garden clearances
- Commercial waste including builders' rubble, tyres and car parts and clinical waste.
Waste Disposal Companies
There is the potential for people to make a substantial profit for collecting and disposing of waste. In order to be legally approved, such people are required to be registered with the Environment Agency as per Section 3 of the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act (CPAA) 1989. For people and businesses who require such services, a list of registered contacts is available from the Environment Agency and through their website.
A person who collects such waste but does not register with the agency may be liable for a fine of up to £5,000. What is more, it is illegal for a person to move controlled waste if they are not recognised as holding a valid registration as per Section 1 of the CPAA 1989. Offenders can be presented with a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £300.
Penalties for fly-tipping
The Penalties given to those who breach fly-tipping laws will vary depending upon the severity of the offence. This means that the impact that the tipping has had on the wider environment will be considered as well as the cost and effort needed to clean the area. The following provides guidelines on the likely penalties that will be issued.
Offenders of Domestic and Household Fly-Tipping
An offender of household fly-tipping can expect to receive a fine of up to £5,000 if they do not dispose of their waste in a responsible and reasonable way. For repeat offenders, an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) may be issued against them.
It is also possible for a fixed penalty of £100 to be made against an individual because of household fly-tipping. This fine can be given to homeowners who do not observe the bin collection days and those who leave their waste to accumulate. In order to ensure that each home knows when their bins will be collected, the local authority is required to provide consistent, clear communication.
Offenders of Business Fly-Tipping
Businesses will be fined for not observing the law and the penalties issued will vary depending upon the severity of their breach. For example, a company who does not provide the necessary documentation or fails to register themselves as a waste carrier will be liable for a Fixed Penalty Notice and a fine of £300.
If, however, the business breaches its duty of care to make sure that their waste is disposed of correctly, they could be issued with a fine of up to £5,000. An ASBO may be issued to repeat offenders and authorities may restrict the use of business vehicles to prevent future offences.
Vehicles that are used for fly-tipping can be legally seized and disposed of by the Environment Agency. Local authorities are also authorised to stop, search and if necessary, seize a vehicle that has been used by a fly-tipper, though they must have a police officer present in order to do this legally.
A vehicle that was used for fly-tipping purposes may be forfeited in order to cover the clean-up costs of the offence as well as the expense of investigating and enforcing the law.
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