DEFRA reveals rise of organised criminal fly-tipping activity

The risk of detection and enforcement is not keeping up with a rise in larger-scale fly-tipping, DEFRA statistics indicate.

English councils spent £12.9m on clearing fly-tips left by tipper-trucks, or similar vehicles of similar size in 2018/19, up from £12.2m. A total of 36,000 of them were reported, slightly more than 2017/18, according to a government report issued yesterday.

At the same time, only 2,052 court fines were issued in response to such serious criminality, a 6% rise. Although there was a much more dramatic increase in the amount of money obtained from them, rising 29% to £1,090,000, this is still a fraction of the financial burden of clearing them. The figures mean that the average fine for each major fly-tipping incident in England was only £531.

A total of 1,072,000 fly-tips of all sizes were reported by English local authorities over 2018/19. The figure is 8% greater than the number found the previous year, 998,000.

Their numbers have risen steadily since 2012/13, when 715,000 were recorded. However, DEFRA cautions that, “Many local authorities have changed the way they capture and report fly-tips over the past few years, so the changes over time should be interpreted with some care.” Those subject to enforcement action by the Environment Agency are excluded from the report.

Just under 500,000 enforcement actions (such as mounting investigations, issuing warning letters, and undertaking duty of care inspections) were taken, up a little from 2017/18. The number of fixed penalty notices has continued to rise, up 11% to 76,000. These are generally used for small-scale fly-tipping (12,000) and littering (37,000).

Fly-tips were mostly found, as always, on pavements and roads. These accounted for almost half of the incidents. The most common quantities were consistent with a ‘small van load’ of waste, followed by a car boot-full.

Only 3% were consistent with being dumped from a tipper lorry or the like, similar to 2017/18. But the larger incidents cost £12.9m to clear up, against a £12.2m bill the year before.

Almost two thirds of incidents involved household waste, most of the rest being of a commercial nature.




The report came a day after three men were sentenced for serious fly-tipping in Portsmouth. It stands as an illustration of the disconnect between the costs of clearing up after them and the penalties imposed.

Daniel Worboys, Jason Newman and Sidney Simpson all received 12-week prison sentences, suspended for 12 months, following an investigation by the Environment Agency. 

Portsmouth magistrates’ court also ordered them to pay £1,500, £1,000 and £1,000  compensation to the Environment Agency, respectively.The site used by the three held around 40 different tips from many small vehicles. Some caught fire, emitting toxic smoke and polluting a local stream.

The bill for clearing the site came to around £100,000.

Related Environmental Services

Powered by ENDS Directory

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

News from ENDS Europe

News from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy