The term ‘fly-tipping’ refers to any rubbish or waste that has been dumped illegally on land.
It’s the bane of land and property owners’ lives, as it is for local authorities who frequently have to pick up the bill for its removal.
The most recent figures show more than a million incidents were dealt with in England alone in a single year, resulting in literally millions of tons of waste, over 60% of which is household waste. The Country Land and Business Association estimates the cost of removal to be between £100m and £150m per year, roughly 10% of which is borne by taxpayers.
Careless and unethical waste disposal costs a great deal of time and money to deal with and can be serious for vulnerable sites in remote locations where security protection is not in place. Many property owners require professional assistance with dealing with, and preventing, fly-tipping, particularly if dumped items include bulky appliances, furniture, or dangerous substances.
However, it isn’t just a pest and an expense; fly-tipping can destroy habitats and ecosystems.
How fly-tipping impacts the environment, the economy and public safety
- Chemical leakages into the soil, killing animals, plants, infecting the land and contaminating water sources. The damage to habitats and environments can be difficult to reverse.
- The dumping of asbestos; known to have disastrous impact on the health of any people or animals who come into contact with it, including potentially fatal lung conditions. Asbestos is a highly dangerous material which can lead to various forms of lung cancer and other health complications. Note that if you suspect asbestos on your property, you must go through the proper measures and consult with a professional, approved waste management company to remove the material.
- Rubbish and waste materials that have been left for a long time (especially food waste) will quickly attract flies, infestations and larvae which pose health risks to people and local habitat. This can also lead to rat or other vermin infestations. Rats and vermin often carry harmful infectious diseases which can further endanger the public and other species in a particular ecosystem.
- Fly-tipping waste is a very serious crime with fines from local authorities ranging from £150 to £400 and up to 5 years in prison.
- Unfortunately, the environmental agency is not responsible for covering the costs of removing or treating the waste. This expense always falls onto the shoulders of the local authority or the private site owner which is why prevention is the best form of cure.
- Across the UK, property owners and local governments spent between £86 million and £186 million per year.
- This makes it a costly issue, with expenses associated with cleaning up the waste, and investigating how and why it has come to be disposed of illegally.
What can you do as an immediate response?
Fly-tipping is treated seriously and is a prosecutable legal offence. If you ever spot anybody fly-tipping, never intervene – instead, take down descriptions and vehicle registration numbers, and pass these on to the police and local authorities.
It is never worth putting your safety at risk to investigate, but noting the date and time and any details you can see will help investigate and charge the criminals.
In some cases, the environment agencies may respond to the fly-tipping – usually, they wish to check whether any dangerous chemicals or gases are present, and take any emergency action required to protect the local environment.
How can you prevent fly-tipping on your land?
There are lots of things you can do to protect yourself from the potential biohazards, pest control issues, and the waste disposal costs associated with fly-tipping:
- Contract a fly-tipping removal company who specialise in bulk waste removal, to analyse your property and identify vulnerabilities that make your site a target for fly-tipping.
- Put in place physical barriers, proper fencing, security patrols, construction site security or manned guarding as required to safeguard your premises.
- Install CCTV cameras at points of access with highly visible signage to deter fly-tippers.