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The Environment Agency has welcomed the timely launch of a new government initiative to help tackle the scourge of ...
The Environment Agency has welcomed the timely launch of a new government initiative to help tackle the scourge of fly-tipping.

The strategy, which was unveiled today (see LGCnet) sets out how the government intends to deal with the illegal dumping of waste from household rubbish, food and drink containers to more serious and hazardous types of waste.

Nationally fly-tipping is increasing - the agency dealt with around 5,000 incidents in 2002 - almost 19% more incidents than in 2001 and early indications are that the increase continued through 2003.

Responsibility for flytipping is split between the Environment Agency and local authorities. Local authorities deal with small scale flytipping, the Environment Agency works to tackle flytipping of a more serious nature; the big, the bad and the nasty, including incidents involving hazardous wastes which pose risks to the environment and human health.

Environment Agency's waste policy manager Alan D'Arcy said: 'We are pleased to see that the government recognises the importance of tackling illegal waste activities such as fly-tipping. Fly-tipping is a crime that affects us all and is continuing to get worse.

'In one year alone we dealt with almost 5,000 serious flytipping incidents. It is vital that we work together with the government and in particular through partnerships with local authorities to help crack this anti-social problem. This strategy will help us to do that in the most effective way possible.'

The Environment Agency is currently working with the Local Government Association to review the joint fly-tipping protocol which sets out how local authorities and the Agency work together more effectively to combat fly-tipping.

The Environment Agency also welcomes Defra's consultation on Statutory Direction that will strengthen the division of responsibility between local authorities and the Environment Agency.


1. Fly-tipping is a criminal act . Penalties are up to a£20,000 fine or six months in prison in magistrates' court and unlimited fines or two years in prison on higher courts. Where hazardous waste is involved, the penalties can be even more severe.

2. Both local authorities and the Environment Agency are tasked with tackling fly-tipping. Increasingly sophisticated techniques are being used to tackle this growing problem.

3. The division of responsibility between local authorities and the agency is described in an agreement between the LGA and the agency, this is called the 'fly-tipping protocol'. The protocol is currently under review, and parts of it may be made statutory in due course. In general, the agency will tackle large-scale fly-tipping of waste and the fly-tipping of hazardous wastes. Local authorities will deal will all other types of fly-tipping, littering and abandoned vehicles.

4. A database called Flycapture has recently been launched as part of a concerted effort being made by government, the Environment Agencyand local authorities to identify the true scale and nature of the fly-tipping problem and to find new ways of tackling this antisocial crime.

Five Facts about fly-tipping

* Lay-bys, verges of country lanes, urban back alleys and derelict land are the main areas for fly-tipping and contain the largest quantities of fly-tipped waste. Overall, local authorities collected fly-tipped rubbish from urban and rural land in equal measures. (Source: ENCAMS, 97/98)

* In 1997/98, local authorities collected an average of 556m3 of fly-tipped household waste - equivalent to about 2,500 wheelie bins. Garden rubbish and builders wastes were also frequently found. (Source: ENCAMS)

* On average, tyre fly-tippers cost the tax payers of England and Wales more than£2 million in clean-up bills every year (cost to local authorities, the emergency services, Environment Agency and landowners).

* Fly-tipping is a crime and the Environment Agency can prosecute fly-tippers under the Environmental Protectio n Act 1990. In 2001/02, the agency won 132 successful prosecutions against fly-tippers. Fines can be up to£20,000 or six months imprisonment (or both) if convicted in a magistrates court. If prosecuted in the crown court, the fine may be unlimited with the possibility of between two to five years' imprisonment if special waste is involved. All too often penalties awarded by the courts are much lower.

* If you see an incident of fly-tipping, be discrete, but try to note the following details:

- The date, time and the place where the tipping is taking place, or has occurred

- What the waste is and how much of it there is

- A description of any vehicles involved and the registration number

Then call your local authority to report this, or call the Environment Agency Emergency Hotline: 0800 80 70 60 with the details.

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