Councils could be given more powers to fine people whose waste ends up dumped on public land.
In a bid to tackle fly-tipping, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is proposing to let local authorities issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to households if they fail to ensure their waste is disposed legally.
Councils currently issue fines for fly-tipping by taking offenders to court.
Defra’s consultation, launched today, said: “Our policy is clear that enforcement action through fixed penalty notices should only be taken when it is proportionate and in the public interest to do so. Disproportionate enforcement activity undermines legitimate messages against fly-tipping related offences.
“Under no circumstances should regulators use FPNs as a means to generate income.”
A dispute resolution service is being considered as there is currently no obligation for an authority that issues FPNs to offer an appeals process to someone that might want to dispute a fine.
Martin Tett (Con), the Local Government Association’s environment spokesman, said: “Clearing up fly-tipping costs councils more than £57m a year – money that could be spent on other services, like caring for the elderly, protecting children or tackling homelessness. It is unacceptable that they are having to spend vast amounts each year tackling this scourge.”
Cllr Tett said councils already warn households to use reputable waste operators but welcomed the potential introducing of extra powers.
“We were pleased the government responded to our call for councils to be able to apply fixed penalty notices to fly-tippers and this was a big step in the right direction,” he said. “But when they take offenders to court, councils need a faster and more effective legal system which means fly-tippers are given hard-hitting fines for more serious offences.
“The government should also consider asking manufacturers to provide more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones.”
A Chartered Institution of Wastes Management spokesman said: “Local authorities deal with nearly a million fly-tipping incidents a year and around two-thirds of these involve household waste. We need to choke off the supply of waste to illegal operators by improving awareness and ensuring that those who deliberately flout their responsibilities are penalised.”