Fly-tipping up 50% in Northumberland - council fights back under zero-tolerance approach

Fly-tipping incidents in Northumberland increased by 50% last year, according to new national figures published last week.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 5:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 10:11 am
Fly-tipping at Red Row just off the A1068 – next to a no fly-tipping sign – during the summer. Picture by Jeff Newton

The number of actions taken by the county council also rose significantly (42%) from 2017-18 to 2018-19, while the authority attributes most of last year’s hike in incidents to ‘two hot-spot urban areas’.

The new data shows that there were 3,759 reported fly-tipping incidents in the county in the last financial year, up from 2,511 in 2017-18.

That figure itself was the highest for the previous six years provided in Defra’s tables, with incidents steadily rising from a total of 1,515 in 2012-13.

The number of actions taken by the council – for example, fixed penalty notices and prosecutions – was 1,807 in 2018-19, up from 1,277 the year before, although not as high as the 1,936 recorded in 2015-16.

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “Fly-tipping is a serious environmental crime and the council’s environmental enforcement officers investigate hundreds of fly-tipping incidents each year.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach and if the fly-tipper can be identified then we will always take enforcement action against them, usually by issuing a fixed penalty fine or seeking prosecution through the courts.

“The number of recorded fly-tips has increased during 18-19 with almost all of this increase consisting of household waste and occurring in two hot-spot urban areas.

“A Fly Tipping Reduction Action Plan has been developed that will support people to dispose of their waste responsibly and remind them of the ways they can do this. The plan also outlines how we intend to increase our efforts to identify and hold to account those small number of people who continue to dump their rubbish.

“Through developing partnerships with town and parish councils, the county council now employs more enforcement officers and front-line removal teams than they did previously and the council remains fully committed to targeting those responsible for littering and fly-tipping in order to try to secure a positive change in behaviour.”

But it is not just in Northumberland where there has been a rise in incidents, this reflects a trend across England.

Coun David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Fly-tipping is illegal, a serious public health risk and costs taxpayers in England more than £57million a year to clear up.

“This is why councils take the issue very seriously and took action on nearly half-a-million incidents in 2018-19 – around 5,000 more than the previous year and up by nearly 75,000 in six years.”

He added that prosecutions ‘often require time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof’.

“The next government needs to ensure councils have the funding needed to investigate incidents and should review sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, so that fly-tippers are given bigger fines for more serious offences to help deter 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.”