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Reproduced from article by Charles Hymans in the Daily Telegraph of 4th January 2020

Paltry fly-tipping fines of under £50 are failing to deter criminals from dumping waste, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned. 

Only five per cent of court-imposed fines for fly-tipping offences in England in the past six years were above £1,000, and only a sixth of them above £500, the LGA has revealed.

This is despite fly-tipping incidents soaring by 50 per cent over the same period, up from 714,637 in 2012/13 to 1,072,431 in 2018/19.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, says tougher sentences are needed to deter fly-tipping, which latest figures show costs councils £58 million a year to clear up.

Only two people have been given the maximum £50,000 fine by the courts for fly-tipping since the Government introduced new guidelines in 2014.

It comes as fly tipping was reported as reaching a 10-year high in England in November, with campaigners warning that the problem may have been fuelled by confusion over complex waste disposal rules.

Last year, as part of the Telegraph’s Zero Waste campaign, it was revealed that a rubbish-tip ‘tax’ for households disposing of goods had left residents fearing a surge in dumping, while an analysis of supermarket packaging found that shoppers had to decipher 58 recycling symbols on products.

The LGA put the meagre fines down to cash-strapped councils, as the demand on their legal duties, such as caring for elderly and disabled people, protecting children and providing homelessness support, meant there is less money available for discretionary powers – like issuing penalty notices for fly-tipping.  

They are now calling on the Government to work with councils on reviewing guidance to the courts to ensure the worst offenders face tougher sentences, and that councils have the funding needed to investigate and prosecute fly-tippers.

LGA Environment spokesman, Cllr David Renard, said fly-tipping is “not only an illegal, inexcusable and ugly blight on society, it is a serious public health risk”. 

He said that councils were determined to “crack down” on the problem with increased enforcement and CCTV at fly-tipping hotspots. 

Councils took action on nearly half a million incidents in 2018/19 – almost 5,000 more than the previous year and up by nearly 75,000 in six years.

Successful prosecutions brought by councils are also at their highest level since 2011/12, while fixed penalty notices – issued by councils for smaller fly-tipping cases – are at record levels.

Seizure of vehicles – up 51 per cent over the past year – is also at an all-time high.

But Mr Renard said that prosecuting fly-tippers often requires “time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof”.

He added: “Tougher sentences are needed to act as a stronger deterrent to criminals dumping waste.

“This is why we want to work with the Government on reviewing sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, so offenders are given bigger fines for more serious offences, and ensure councils have the funding needed to investigate incidents.

“Manufacturers can also contribute, by providing more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones. People should report fly-tipping as soon as possible.”

 

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