Fly-tipping clear-up costs near £50m

Incidents of fly-tipping rose by almost six per cent in 2014-15, while the cost of clearing up the mess jumped by 11 per cent to nearly £50m, according to official statistics.

The latest Government figures show councils are now dealing with almost 900,000 incidents of fly-tipping every year and are carrying out over half a million enforcement actions, costing £17.6m in 2014-15.

Since May, councils have had new powers to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices of up to £400 to tackle small-scale fly-tipping, such as dumping old TV sets, broken furniture and mattresses.

But the Local Government Association says there needs to be a much wider overhaul of the system, including placing more responsibility on the manufacturers of products like mattresses to contribute to clear-up costs.

The LGA had compiled a list of the worst excuses given by fly-tippers. They include a claims that waste had fallen off the back of the vehicle while it was driving along, someone had thrown rubbish out of their car so they could find their phone and, at number one, that they had "paid a man with a van to take it".

But the LGA said fly-tipping is no laughing matter for councils, who will take a zero-tolerance stance. The Joint Waste Partnership for Buckinghamshire, for example, has secured 500 convictions against fly-tippers in just over a decade, saving the county council an estimated £2m and up to another £1m for districts, mainly though reduced removal and disposal costs.

Meanwhile, Croydon Council has successfully prosecuted 112 people since launching the Don't Mess With Croydon: Take Pride campaign, which combines enforcement with encouraging over 300 locals to lead community litter picks.

Cllr Peter Box, the LGA's environment spokesman, said: "The excuses some fly-tippers give when caught are laughable but for councils this issue is deadly serious. Councils are being forced to spend many millions on clearing up fly-tipping and taking enforcement action. At a time when councils have experienced substantial budget reductions, this is money which is being diverted from vital frontline services like caring for the elderly and filling the nation's potholes.

"Councils use enforcement powers proportionately and take a range of different approaches to raise awareness and change culture. This includes providing advice and encouraging residents to report incidents and businesses to keep areas next to their premises clean and clear of litter and mess that can attract dumping."