New £400 on-the-spot fines for fly tipping households
Last year, fly tipping in the UK surged by 7%, putting increased pressure on councils, communities and waste management companies to clear it up. Now, the government has responded, giving councils the power to issue £400 on-the-spot fines for fly-tipping households.
Who is being targeted with this scheme?
It’s not actually households themselves that are the target, but instead it’s the rogue ‘man with a van’ waste operators who do illegal and unlicensed work and are known to fly tip. By putting pressure on fly tipping households to only work with licensed operators, it is thought that they can put the rogues out of business, remove incentive for waste criminals, and increase the integrity of the waste industry.
When will the change take place?
In the autumn of 2018, councils will be granted the power to hand out these new fines. It is already illegal to hire an unlicensed waste removal team to take your waste, but due to the rising cost of prosecuting, UK councils only choose to take this avenue in exceptional cases.
Waste transfer notes?
On the B2B side of things, for example when a waste management company takes rubbish away from a retail shop, a waste transfer note must be produced, that confirms how much waste has been taken, and that it has been taken by a licensed waste operator. It is being suggested that a similar method of proof should suffice for households.
When hiring a waste operator, we recommend that you first make sure they are licensed, and second, get a receipt for any work that they do. If your waste is later found to be fly tipped, this evidence could suffice in putting the responsibility onto the waste operator, rather than the household.
Why do people use illegal waste operators?
Financial reasons are usually behind the decision to employ an unlicensed operator, as they may charge as little as £100 for removing a full van of waste. There are also instances where ‘friends’ take on the work, not realising it requires a license, and dump the waste becasue of landfill costs.
A licensed operator can be found for around £200, which is almost double the cost of doing it illegally. However, if you now factor in the £400 fine for getting caught, the incentive should be there to do things properly.
How will they catch offenders?
The traditional method of catching households who use illegal waste operators will likely continue, which is simply to search through the rubbish for evidence, such as letters that contain an address, and any official documents or receipts – essentially a name or address. The issue is, this activity takes a lot of manpower and comes with health and safety risks, due to the potential for hazardous waste being among the debris of a fly tip site.
The DVLA is likely to cooperate in a greater capacity with the police against fly tippers whose number plates have been caught on CCTV cameras. Private landowners and taxpayers had to pay more than £58m to clean up fly tip sites last year, proving this is not a victimless crime, and that more must be done to catch offenders.
Is £400 enough?
For some, £400 is not enough of an incentive to stop fly tipping, but fortunately this is just the limit for individuals or households who are caught. For businesses, who have a much greater potential for waste generation and fly tipping en-masse, the fine can be up to £50,000!
Others argue that if commonly fly tipped goods, like old fridges and washing machines, were free to dispose of at recycling centres, this issue would be massively reduced. The same theory could apply to mattresses, old tv monitors and bulky furniture.
The truth is that landfills are expensive as a deterrent for their overuse, so that they are used responsibly, but they have become a contributor to the growth of fly tipping households, because they are now unaffordable.
Are crime gangs in on it?
Conservative MP Julia Lopez, of Hornchurch and Upminster, has a theory that crime gangs are responsible for most of the fly tipping that goes on. Of course, there is little evidence for this, but it could help explain why CCTV and license plate tracking is not yet that effective, if her theory of stolen trucks and fake plates could be proven. She believes that the police need to do more, but how, is the real question.