Garden waste and fly-tipping – what does the law say?

Environment and climate
Garden waste that was illegally left on a member's farm.

The NFU is urging members of the public to be aware of the law and the potential risk to livestock when disposing of their garden waste.

NFU CallFirst has recently been made aware of several concerns from NFU members who have had green waste dumped in their fields by members of the public. It is not just illegal to dispose of garden waste in farmer’s fields, but garden waste can be deadly to livestock and wildlife.

Livestock have sensitive digestive systems and grass clippings for example, can cause life threatening digestive problems and some common garden plants can be poisonous to them.

"It can be extremely distressing for farmers to see the livestock they work so hard for, harmed in this way," said NFU Vice President David Exwood. 

“I would urge members of the public to make themselves aware of the law and the potentially fatal consequences of ‘green fly-tipping’, and encourage farmers and landowners to share their experiences via the NFU’s fly-tipping form.

“The NFU will continue to highlight farmers’ concerns to Defra and make the case for tougher action.”

Tipping green waste into a farmer’s field, or adjacent to the public highway is a form of fly-tipping, which is an offence – but not many people would assume they are doing something illegal because it’s ‘green’ and not ‘rubbish’.


It can be extremely distressing for farmers to see the livestock they work so hard for, harmed in this way.”

NFU Vice President David Exwood

Anyone caught fly-tipping waste could now be faced with a fixed penalty notice of up to £1000.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, all householders have a duty of care to ensure that their refuse, including green waste is passed to an authorised person or to a person for authorised transport purposes who can dispose of the waste lawfully. Householders not taking reasonable measures to ensure that their waste is transferred to an authorised person will be committing an offence and could face a fixed penalty notice of up to £600.

Following the rules

To be compliant with the rules, householders should use the council to take away all their refuse, or a registered waste carrier. Further information on their local authorities green waste collections can be found at

If livestock are harmed or die as a result of eating green waste, then the person responsible for fly-tipping could be found guilty of an offence, such as causing unnecessary suffering to animals or criminal damage, even if there was no intention to harm livestock.

Committing these offences can result in a fine and/or prison sentence. The person responsible could also be liable for negligence and made to pay compensation to the affected farmer.

Action you can take

The NFU has previously highlighted concerns over the risks to livestock being harmed by illegal green waste disposal to Defra via a consultation last year on charges for waste collections. The increase in ‘green fly-tipping’ was raised as a potential issue should councils implement a charge for green waste collections, which some have done in recent years.

We are encouraging members to share any and all experiences of fly-tipping, no matter how long ago it happened, via our reporting form.

With your help we can make a stronger case to government that tougher actions is needed.

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