NEWLY-RELEASED figures from Defra today show that incidents of fly-tipping on public land have increased by 16 per cent percent across England in 2020-21.

These figures underline the damage afflicted on councils in England, who have dealt with 1.13m fly-tipping incidents during this period.

Compared with the previous reporting period 2019-20, fly-tipping incidents (stated as a number of incidents per 1,000 inhabitants) have shown an increase in both the North West (from 16 to 19) and North-East (from 24 to 31). The figures for Yorkshire and The Humber showed a slight decrease in incidents from 17 to 16 incidents per 1,000 people.

Not a single local authority in across these Northern sub-regions have imposed a fine above £5,000. Total number of fines and number of vehicles seized per sub-region as follows: North East ,47 fines issued, 23 vehicles seized; North West, 180 fines issued, six vehicles seized; Yorkshire and The Humber, 71 fines issued, 19 vehicles seized.

But these figures only account for waste illegally dumped on public land which has been reported to the authorities. Representing around 28,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) believes these figures only tell half of the story.

The vast majority of fly-tipping incidents occur on privately-owned land, painting an even more damaging picture of the financial burden fly-tipping brings. One CLA member is so badly affected that they are facing a bill of over £100,000 to clear up one particularly shocking incident.

This highlights the need to change the current fining and imprisonment laws, which are not enforced and do not deter criminals.

CLA Director North Lucinda Douglas said: “These figures do not tell the full story of this disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside.”

“Local authorities tend not to get involved with clearing incidences of fly-tipped waste from private land, leaving the landowner to clean up and foot what is often an extortionate bill. The government figures do not reflect the true scale of the crime because increasing reports of fly-tipping on private rural land are not included, coupled with the country plunged into lockdown.

“Fly-tipping continues to wreck the lives of many of us living and working in the countryside – and significant progress needs to be made to stop it.”

“It’s not just the odd bin bag but large household items, from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.”

“Although the maximum fine for anyone caught fly-tipping is £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment, if convicted in a Magistrates' Court, this is rarely enforced. Unless tougher or more realistic action is taken to combat this kind of rural crime, it will continue to wreak devastation across rural communities This is why it’s crucial that tougher punishments are imposed by the Courts.”

The CLA introduced a 5-point action plan to tackle fly-tipping which called on local authorities, the Environment Agency and police forces to commit to stronger action against the increase of fly-tipping on private land. The CLA believes that each local authority should have a dedicated lead for fly-tipping to aid partnership working.