INCIDENTS of fly-tipping on public land have increased by two percent across England in 2019-20, according to new figures released by Defra this week.

While councils in England have dealt with just under one million fly-tipping incidents during this period, these figures account for waste illegally dumped on public land reported to these authorities.

However, the vast majority of fly-tipping incidents on privately-owned land, which are thought to be ‘significantly more’, are not included.

Mark Bridgeman, president of the CLA, said: “While these figures are alarming, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Cases of fly-tipping on privately-owned land are significantly more than on public land, so these government figures do not reflect the true scale of this type of organised crime, which blights our rural communities.

"Part of the problem is that it is currently too simple to gain a waste carrying licence that enables firms to transport and dispose of waste – and this needs urgent reform with correct checks put in place. A revamped system would act as a deterrent.

“Although the maximum fine for anyone caught fly-tipping is £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment, if convicted in a Magistrates' Court, this is seldom enforced. Unless tougher action is taken to combat this kind of rural crime, it will continue to increase.”

The most common size category for fly-tipping incidents in 2019-20 was equivalent to a ‘small van load’ (34 per cent of total incidents), followed by the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’ (28per cent). The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways (pavements and roads), which accounted for over two fifths (43 per cent) of total incidents.

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “Fly-tipping is not a victimless crime. Private landowners are fed up of clearing away other people’s rubbish and paying for the privilege. If they don’t act, they risk prosecution for illegal storage of waste which is simply not fair.

"We are calling on the Government to remove landowner liability to clear up waste on private land and for local councils to introduce a scheme, which would allow any private landowner to dispose of fly-tipped rubbish at a waste disposal site free of charge.”

“We must all work together with central Government, councils and others to tackle the attitudes and behaviours that lead to people not taking responsibility for the waste they create. We would like to see more creative use of measures like naming and shaming, confiscation of vehicles and other property and better education about the consequences of fly-tipping and littering.

“Government regulations enable local councils to issue fixed penalty notices or fines of up to £400 for small scale fly-tipping, but this is not enough. We will also continue to call for a speedier and more effective legal system to deal with offenders more robustly, and urge councils to exercise their powers in prosecuting fly tippers.

“The maximum fine is £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court, but this is never enforced. If it was, it might deter fly-tippers. Frequently, it costs more to bring an offender to court than the penalty actually imposed.”

Fines issued across the North between £1,001-£5,000 in the North East were 12 with nine in Newcastle; five in Darlington and four in Durham. In Yorkshire & The Humber, there were 16.