Fact sheet: Fly-tipping
- Last updated January 2018
Fly-tipping is the illegal deposit of waste on land, contrary to Section 33 (1) (a) of the
Environmental Protection Act 1990. Fly-tipping ranges from ‘black bag’ waste, sofas and
mattresses to large deposits of materials such as industrial waste, construction material and liquid
waste. Fly-tipping blights communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment,
which is why the Government is committed to tackling this anti-social behaviour so everyone can
enjoy a cleaner, healthier country. Fly-tipping spoils our enjoyment of our towns and countryside,
can harm human health and wildlife, and damage farming and tourism. It also undermines
legitimate waste businesses when unscrupulous operators undercut those that operate within the
law and is a drain on local authority resources.
The trend in incidents of fly-tipping had been downward until 2013-14 since when there has been
an increase to just over 1 million incidents in 2016-17. This represents an increase of 7% from the
previous year. This increase may reflect improvements to the capture of fly-tipping incidents as
well as genuine increases in the number of incidents. Most of the incidents occurred on public
land, the majority occurring on highways, which accounted for almost half (49%) of total incidents
in 2016-17. In 2016-17 local authorities spent an estimated £57.7 million clearing and disposing of
fly-tipped waste on public land. Local authorities issued 56,000 fixed penalty notices in 2016-17.
The exact scale of fly-tipping on private land is uncertain as there is no requirement for
landowners to report incidents, but we are working to increase reporting. Landowners have
estimated that fly-tipping on private land costs £50 million to £150 million a year.
Local authorities and the Environment Agency (EA) are responsible for investigating and clearing
up fly-tipping on public land, while clearance from private land is the responsibility of the
landowner. Local authorities deal with the vast majority of fly-tipping cases while the EA
investigates large-scale cases of illegal dumping, particularly those posing an immediate risk to
the environment or public health and those involving organised crime. Government action taken
We are committed to tackling fly-tipping and, as set out in the Government’s manifesto, have given
local authorities powers to issue £400 fixed penalty notices. New advances in technology,
including mobile phone reporting, have all made it easier for local authorities to clamp down on
small-scale fly-tipping, and 98% of fly-tipping prosecutions resulting in a conviction is a clear
warning to anyone involved in serious waste crime. This builds on other actions the Government
has taken, including:
cracking down on offenders by working with the Sentencing Council to strengthen the
Guideline for environmental offences, which came into force on 1 July 2014;
making it easier for vehicles suspected of being involved in waste crime to be stopped,
searched and seized;
working in partnership with representatives from central and local government, enforcement
authorities, the waste industry and private landowners. The Defra-chaired National Fly-
Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG) works to prevent and tackle illegal dumping; and
the NFTPG has published a series of fly-tipping prevention guides for householders,
businesses and landowners. These build on the Partnership Framework published in 2014,
which outlines best practice for the prevention, reporting, investigation and clearance of fly-
tipping to be adapted to suit local circumstances. See: www.tacklingflytipping.com.
Further Government action
As part of Defra’s Resources and Waste Strategy, we are developing further measures to tackle
enhancing coordination between local authorities and other agencies, such as the EA and
increasing reporting of fly-tipping on private land to better target enforcement;
clarifying the legal definition of household waste in relation to charging at household waste
and recycling centres;
broadening producer responsibility to a wider range of items, for example, furniture,
stopping fly-tipping happening in the first place by reviewing the waste carrier licence regime.
What is being done about fly-tipping on private land?
Fly-tipping is unacceptable whether it occurs on public or private land. Local authorities or the EA
are not under any legal obligation to clear fly-tipped waste from private property because the
responsibility falls to the landowner. Some authorities may offer a clearance service but they are
likely to charge for this. We expect all local authorities to investigate fly-tipping incidents on private
land - prosecuting the fly-tippers and recovering clearance costs where possible. Local authorities
also provide advice and guidance on measures that can be taken to prevent further fly-tipping.
How do I report fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping incidents can be reported at: www.gov.uk/report-flytipping. Where can I find the latest fly-tipping statistics?
The official fly-tipping statistics for England are published annually and can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/fly-tipping-in-england. What are the penalties for fly-tipping?
The penalties for fly-tipping are:
on summary conviction: imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or a fine, or both;
on conviction on indictment: imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or a fine, or
Companies and their directors, officers and senior employees can be imprisoned. There is also the
possibility of convicted persons being refused authorisation to operate as a waste carrier or run a
waste management site as well as such authorisation being revoked. What is the fine for a fixed penalty notice for fly-tipping?
The regulations provide a minimum fine of £150 and can be up to £400. Fly-tipping across the UK
Fly-tipping is a devolved matter and each Devolved Administration will have different policies. For
further information on each Administration contact:
Northern Ireland: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Defra helpline can be contacted on 03459 335577.
Alternatively, you can contact us by email at: email@example.com,
or write to us at:
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square
Our target is to reply within 15 working days.