Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) has called for stronger penalties to tackle fly-tipping in a bid to halve reported incidents by 2020.
It has launched an action plan, Reaching the Tipping Point, in response to data for 2014-15 showing that local authorities recorded 900,000 incidents of fly-tipping and spent around £50m clearing rubbish from public land.
Currently, the maximum fine for fly-tipping in a magistrates’ court is £50,000 or 12 months in prison, but 95% of the fines issued are for less than £1,000.
The charity has called for a review of the application of the Environmental Offences Sentencing Guidelines when it comes to the fly-tipping fines handed out by magistrates.
Chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “We know that local authorities are at their wits’ end trying to tackle the growing crisis of dumped rubbish, and our surveys show there is a real challenge here to educate the public that not only is it not OK to fly-tip, it is illegal and can result in a substantial fine for householders and a criminal record.
“We believe that much can be done to support those agencies in the front-lines acting on fly-tipping. This is a growing problem but our action plan, if adopted by the Government and law enforcement agencies at all levels, will make a real difference.”
The plan, published at the Tidy Britain All-Party Parliamentary Group in Westminster, includes pledges from KBT to take a number of actions itself, and it has called for involvement from Government, councils, waste management companies and the legal profession.
The charity will encourage greater consistency from councils in their approach to enforcement by extending the application of its best practice scheme, the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group, as well as its Enforcement Academy.
It has also launched a communication campaign, called ’CrimeNotToCare’, to spread householders’ awareness of the dangers of fly-tipping. It will supply local authorities with digital, print and face-to-face materials to promote the duty of care via local media and include information about local services.
Another suggestion from the charity is for manufacturers and retailers of products such as furniture to bear the cost of collecting and recycling them, as has been suggested by many in the waste industry as part of extended producer responsibility.
The charity also called for partners to work with its Centre for Social Innovation to develop and test local solutions to the growing problem of fly-tipping.
In a recent survey, KBT found that 70% of local authorities thought fly-tipping was a major problem, 53% of which said changes including the increase of bulky waste charges and closing recycling centres had contributed to the problem.
A separate Ipsos MORI nationwide survey of 1,133 adults in England revealed 47% of people did not know they were responsible if their waste was fly-tipped by a third party and 36% of people thought it was acceptable to get rid of furniture in a way that is legally classed as fly-tipping.