Waste crime survey shows 86% of farmers affected by fly-tipping

A fly tipping sign in front of a farm gate

The Environment Agency has released its National Waste Crime Survey results for 2023 with the results showing that 18% of all waste is illegally managed.

The National Waste Crime survey was established by the EA (Environment Agency) to identify trends and understand the effectiveness of the EA’s approach to eliminating waste crime.

At the request of the NFU, the survey included small scale fly-tipping (no more than one lorry load of waste) for the first time, as Defra's annual fly-tipping statistics do not include fly-tips on private land.

Key findings indicate that fly-tipping incidents have increased with 86% of landowners/farmers reporting that they were affected in 2022.

Key stats at a glance:

  • 52% of landowners/farmers or managers said that they are affected by ‘waste crime’ which can include; dumping or burning waste, illegally shipping waste abroad, and deliberately mis-describing waste to evade landfill tax, as well as operating illegal waste sites or persistent and purposeful non-compliance with permit conditions.
  • Only 32% of landowners/farmers stated they were confident about who to call to report waste crime.
  • If a report was made, 62% reported it to their local authority, rather than the EA. This difference between groups reflects the different remit of authorities.
  • On average respondents, (waste industry and/or landowners/farmers), estimated that 31% of all waste crimes are committed by organised crime groups.

The survey had 841 respondents. 469 were responses from landowners/farmers, and 346 worked within the waste industry. The NFU supported and publicised this survey and all responses were anonymous.

Small scale fly-tipping affected the greatest proportion of survey respondents compared to other waste crime types.

The survey echoed views from NFU members, as it showed that the financial consequences of waste crime are greater compared to previous years, with the cost of clean-up, and disruption to business, being the most commonly experienced impact.

The cost of living crisis was also thought to have been a factor in driving waste crime, with financial penalties seen as the most effective deterrent.

NFU Vice President David Exwood said the results show “a small snapshot of the scale of the issue” and urged members to share their experiences of fly-tipping via the NFU’s incident form “to show both local and national government the scale of the issue and strengthen our case for tougher action so we can continue to work with the Environment Agency, national and local government, to make tackling waste crime a priority”.

I urge members to share their experiences of fly-tipping incidents.

NFU Vice President David Exwood

Share your fly-tipping incident

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