NFU calls for urgent action as fly-tipping cases remain high

Environment and climate
A sign warning against fly-tipping with fly-tipped waste in the background

Photograph: Jim Holden/Alamy

Fly-tipping cases have fallen slightly in the past 12 months but the number of incidents reported was still one of the highest on record, prompting the NFU to reiterate its call for urgent action to tackle fly-tipping on farmland.

The latest government fly-tipping statistics show the number of incidents local authorities dealt with in the year to March 2023 decreased by 1% to 1.08 million.

But with more than one million incidents reported, the figures continue to form part of a concerning overall upward trend over the past five years.

It is still disappointing that these figures do not accurately reflect fly-tipping on private land, which is estimated to impact two-thirds of farmers.

‘More can and should be done’

According to the newly released figures:

  • 60% of fly-tips involved household waste
  • 42,000 incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger – an increase of 13% from the previous year
  • The cost to local authorities in England to clear large fly-tipping incidents totalled £13.2 million
  • The number of fixed penalty notices issued decreased by 19% from the previous year
  • The number of court fines has decreased by 17% from the previous year

NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “Fly-tipping continues to be a huge problem and one that plagues the lives of so many of us living and working in the countryside.

“Items such as worn out tyres, battered old fridges and bags of rubble are commonplace. But more and more our farms are being strewn with kitchen appliances, sofas and increasingly, industrial-scale amounts of rubbish such as builder’s rubble and hazardous materials.

david exwood crop 04

Fly-tipping continues to be a huge problem and one that plagues the lives of so many of us living and working in the countryside.

NFU Vice President David Exwood

“This is affecting farmers’ efforts to produce food and care for the environment but is also taking a huge toll emotionally and financially.”

The NFU has welcomed recent government initiatives to help combat the issue, including increasing the maximum penalty for fly-tipping from £400 to £1000 under the Antisocial Behaviour Plan and funding a new fly-tipping post within the National Rural Crime Unit.

Government plans to abolish the fees local authorities charge for disposing of DIY waste at HWRCs (household waste recycling centres) also came into force on 31 December 2023. Although some charges still apply and booking systems can mean lengthy waits.

David added: “The NFU believes more can and should be done including better promoting the household duty of care to ensure all householders are aware that their responsibility for waste disposal is maintained to its final disposal point. We also want to see accreditation for all council enforcement officers to give them enhanced police-style powers to tackle fly-tipping and littering.”

Root causes need tackling

The NFU believes the whole system needs to tackle fly-tipping at the source – from packaging design, recycling, landfill tax and tip opening hours – to make it easier for the public to reduce, re-use and recycle waste. Proportionate penalties as a deterrent to potential offenders, combined with more consistent enforcement measures, are key to addressing this issue.

Small-scale fly-tipping incidents were included in the latest National Waste Crime Survey.

Have you experienced fly-tipping on your farm? We’re encouraging farmers and landowners who've been affected to share details of incidents with us using our online form.

Your information will help strengthen our case for tougher action.

If you know or suspect illegal waste activity is taking place, report it anonymously to Crimestoppers: Give information | Crimestoppers or call 0800 555 111. The 24-hour incident hotline is also available on 0800 80 70 60.

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