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What Is Flytipping?

From fridge/freezers, mattresses, and sofas abandoned on country roads to large volumes of waste deposited on private land, fly-tipping represents an eyesore right across the UK.

The legal definition of fly-tipping is the "illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it." Essentially, it's littering but on a larger scale. And we all hate it.

This month, we are examining the issues of fly-tipping, exploring what the law says about it, and investigating whether the pandemic has had a positive or negative impact on levels of fly-tipping both locally and across the country.

Fly tipping by roadside and the pandemic

During the stricter lockdown periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, fly-tipping on private land got just as out of control in the UK as the virus itself. Perhaps it was because people were spending more time at home with plenty of spare time for having a clear out. It certainly didn't help that access to local recycling centres was also drastically reduced, either completely or by appointment only.

Either way, some areas reported significant increases in fly-tipping following the first lockdown last year, and that's a picture that has been replicated across the country. In some places, authorities recorded higher fines and costs for fly-tipping in 2020.

What happens if you get caught fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping law means that if you get caught, you are liable for a fine of up to £50,000 or a 12-month prison sentence if the case is dealt with in a magistrates court. More serious offences, such as those involving hazardous waste, can be dealt with in Crown Court and result in an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison.

It is also illegal to agree to have your waste disposed of by an unlicensed operator, with possible fines of up to £400. If you're a landowner and a victim of fly-tipping – i.e. if someone dumps a load of rubbish on your land – then things can be even worse, because you not only have a legal responsibility to deal with it, but if you don't remove it quickly enough, then you could be prosecuted.

We are able to offer such unfortunate landowners rapid fly-tipping clearance to remove everything from bags of household waste to fields of hazardous waste.

How to report fly-tipping

Obviously, any incidences of fly-tipping need to be reported, but care should be taken if you spot it as it's taking place. Get as much information as possible, but do not put yourself at any risk while doing so. If you can, make a note of: the date, time, and place of the incident; what the waste is and how much of it there is; descriptions of any people and vehicles involved, including registration number. The incident should then be reported to the appropriate authorities.

When you have large volumes of waste to dispose of, make sure you do it properly and follow the necessary legal procedures.

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