Fly Tipping: A Huge Challenge for the UK

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Posted by HIPPO
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For some years now there’s been an unfortunate increase in reported cases of fly tipping across the country, and in a time of governmental cut-backs, the situation isn’t looking likely to improve any time soon either. Fly tipping is a huge problem that not only has a destructive environmental impact, but it also puts a strain on local councils who are being forced to make every penny count.

A recent government report highlights the extent of the problem, and as being environmentally conscious is close to our hearts here at HIPPO, we want to help raise some awareness of this increasingly difficult situation.

Fly-tipping on side of the road

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So you may be aware that fly tipping is a huge problem, but what exactly is it? The term ‘fly tipping’ refers to the act of illegally dumping refuse and waste on land that is not licenced to deal with it. Dumping waste illegally is a criminal offence that can carry a very large fine, with some offenders even being sent to prison.

And where is this happening? Everywhere from roadside lay-bys, green spaces, forests, parks, alleyways, public right-of-ways and riversides are being polluted, and 95 per cent of farmers claim to have had to clear other people’s rubbish from their land. This all added up to around 852,000 reported cases in 2014 alone.

What’s troubling is that this is an increase of 20% from the year before, an increase that actually follows a year on year decline in number of incidents. This means that last year, local councils in England spent £45.2 million on clearing up rubbish - money that could have been put to better use elsewhere.

Large amount of fly-tipping waste dumped

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Approximately a third of all reported incidents consisted of a small van load, and worryingly, black bags full of domestic rubbish account for 63 per cent of all fly tipping, which is the equivalent of one incident for every 39 households in England. A study by the University of Salford concluded that the introduction of limited bin collections was a major factor in the increase of reported cases of fly tipping.

Fly tipping is often associated with dumping waste form vehicles, and the most common place that fly tipping occurs is on highways and roadsides, making up 47 per cent of total incidents reported.

Some people fly tip in order to avoid paying disposal costs (or landfill tax) when getting rid of waste that isn’t paid for through regular council tax.

Bin bag waste on a residential pavement

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In addition to  the £45.2 million being spent clearing it all up, local authorities carried out nearly 500,000 enforcement actions last year, at an estimated cost of £17.3 million. The police and authorised officers of the Department of the Environment have the power to stop, search and seize any vehicle used, or suspected of being used for illegal waste dumping. Fly tipping can incur fines of up to £20,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment, which can go up dramatically if any hazardous waste is involved.

We also have local councils that are attempting to make a difference to the problem, but it’s not unlikely that with increased government cuts, councils will be forced to make very difficult decisions about public services. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as waste disposal sites and recycling centres are thankfully keeping busy, with more and more people proactively being responsible when it comes to disposing of their household waste.

Mattresses dumped on road

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Should you come across an incident of fly tipping, there are a few things to consider. Under no circumstances should you attempt to clear it yourself – you simply don’t know what might be lurking in there. It might contain harmful substances such as asbestos and toxic chemicals, as well as sharp objects that could injure you. Try your best to not disturb the site in any way, as when the site comes to be investigated there’s a risk that by moving anything, you might disrupt some valuable evidence. 

The best course of action is to report the incident with your local council, making note of what you can see amongst the rubbish. Councils are often stretched to the point where fly tipping isn’t immediately dealt with, so be sure to let any neighbours and members of the community know that you’ve reported its whereabouts.

Wood fly-tipped on pavement

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Fly tipping is a huge challenge for the UK as it puts pressure on public spending, and does some serious harm to the environment and local wildlife. By staying vigilant we can all help to soften the impact it has. 

HIPPO offers an affordable and socially responsible alternative to skip hire. Our HIPPOBAG collection service will remove and recycle over 90% of what’s taken away.