Fly-tipping incidents increase for third year in a row

A third of all incidents consisted of a quantity of material equivalent to a "small van load"
A third of all incidents consisted of a quantity of material equivalent to a "small van load"

Fly-tipping is on the rise again, with the number of incidents up for the third year in a row, official figures show.

Councils across England reported 936,090 cases of fly-tipping in 2015/2016, up 4% on the previous year, the data from the Environment Department (Defra) reveals.

Clearing up the fly-tipped rubbish cost councils £49.8 million.

Local authorities carried out 494,000 enforcement actions to tackle the problem which blights towns and countryside, costing them £16.9 million, a reduction of nearly £700,000 on 2014/2015.

According to the data, the worst-hit councils were in London, with Enfield recording 70,930 incidents, Haringey some 34,975 and Newham 32,718.

Outside the capital, Manchester had the worst problem, with 22,251 cases.

Campaigners warned financial pressure on local councils had caused some waste collection services to be cut, which led to more fly-tipping.

More than two thirds of incidents involved black bags of rubbish or other household waste, while there were also thousands of cases of white goods such as fridges being dumped, as well as tyres, asbestos, vehicle parts and construction waste.

A third of all incidents consisted of a quantity of material equivalent to a "small van load".

In addition the Environment Agency dealt with 125 major fly-tipping cases in 2015/2016, including six incidents of illegally dumping asbestos, 11 large-scale tyre dumps and 26 cases of tipping chemical drums, oil or fuel.

Fly-tipping incidents have fallen from more than 1.28 million in 2007/2008 to around 711,500 cases in 2012/2013 before rising again, although the changes may in part be down to the way councils record the data.

Samantha Harding, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: "Financial pressure on local councils has caused some local collection services to be cut and it seems that people have taken this as a licence to dump their waste illegally.

"There needs to be a review of England's struggling waste management systems, with a new ambitious programme to haul them into the 21st century."

The Country Land and Business Association's president Ross Murray said the figures did not tell the full story of the "disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside" as they did not include cases on private rural land.

CLA members have reported a big increase in fly-tipping, with incidents ranging from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos dumped in the countryside, he said.

Local Government Association environment spokeswoman Judith Blake said: "At a time when social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020 and councils' overall funding shortfall is predicted to reach £5.8 billion within three years, local authorities are having to spend a vast amount each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping.

"This is money that would be better spent on vital front line services."

A Defra spokesman said: "Fly-tipping blights communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment, which is why we are committed to tackling this anti-social behaviour so everyone can enjoy a cleaner, healthier country."

The Government has given councils new powers to issue £400 "on the spot" fixed penalty notices to help clamp down on small-scale fly-tipping, he said.