Call for tougher fly-tipping fines in Northumberland after figures reveal lack of court action

The national body representing councils has called for larger fly-tipping fines, as figures show a 50% rise in incidents over the last six years.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 2:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 9th February 2020, 2:38 am
Fly-tipping at Red Row just off the A1068 – next to a no fly-tipping sign – during last summer. Picture by Jeff Newton

Last month, the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed that only five per cent of court-imposed fines for fly-tipping offences in England from 2012-13 to 2018-19 were above £1,000 and only a sixth of them above £500.

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.

Across the North East, there were 208 court-imposed fines in 2018-19, with just 14, or 7%, being above £1,000 and 44 (21%) above £500.

In Northumberland, there were no court-imposed fines at all last year according to the national figures, however, there were occasions when the council handed out fixed penalty notices.

In October 2018, the authority revealed that a Cramlington fly-tipper had been issued with a £400 fixed penalty and in May last year, an Annitsford man was fined £400 after illegally dumping waste on Mill Lane in Seghill in February 2019.

Plus, in the current financial year, an Ashington man pleaded guilty to a fly-tipping offence in November 2019; he was fined £480 and ordered to pay £270 in compensation to a farmer for clear-up costs and crop damage.

The LGA is calling on the Government to work with councils on reviewing guidance to the courts to ensure the worst offenders face tougher sentences and that authorities have the funding needed to investigate and prosecute fly-tippers.

The LGA’s environment spokesman, Coun David Renard, said: “Councils are determined to crack down on the problem and have increased enforcement activity, including installing CCTV at fly-tipping hotspots to support successful prosecutions.

“However, prosecuting fly-tippers often requires time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof. Tougher sentences are needed to act as a stronger deterrent to criminals dumping waste.”

As previously reported, fly-tipping incidents in Northumberland increased by 50% last year alone, although the council attributed most of the hike to ‘two hot-spot urban areas’.

The number of actions taken by the county council also rose significantly (42%) from 2017-18 to 2018-19.