Analysis: What are your responsibilities with fly-tipping

By Amy Hodgetts

The cost of waste has steadily risen over recent years and with that, so has the number of fly-tipping instances. Thanks to the digital world we’re living in, it’s never been so easy to raise awareness of fly-tipping, as we’re seeing more and more examples being shared across the internet. So with that in mind, what are your risks when it comes to fly-tipping? In this article, Skiphire UK providers of skip hire, explore what you can do to prevent yourself from being the front page on your local newspaper.


Fly-tipping is defined as “The illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a license to accept it”, according to Keep Britain Tidy. This means that fly-tipped waste can be anything, from a single mattress to large amounts of construction waste, it all counts if it’s dumped on an unlicensed land no matter how much of it is there. What’s more, is that unlicensed land could actually be yours, if somebody else has dumped on it, then it becomes your responsibility meaning you have to pick up the pieces.

Is it considered illegal?

New environmental laws have been introduced by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), which has resulted in laws and rules around fly-tipping becoming stricter. In 2016/17, there were over one million incidents of fly-tipping dealt with, costing English councils just over £58 million to clear up. With extreme figures like this being released, it is quite easy to see why the consequences for fly-tipping has increased.

So, to answer the question, yes, it is illegal! It’s a serious criminal offence that could result in you paying a hefty fine, up to £50,000 as well as in some cases, a prison sentence if the offence is repeated. These tend to be the more serious cases, although you could still end up being guilty even if it isn’t your waste that has been fly-tipped. You can also be at fault even if you have paid for somebody else to take your waste away, only to find your untrustworthy waste carrier has fly-tipped it illegally!

Incidents of fly-tipping

Thanks to the development of social media, it’s easier for the nation to showcase incidents of fly-tipping that have occurred across the country, as well as highlighting the fines that come with them. Here are some examples that show the consequences in different scenarios:

Hiring an unlicensed waste carrier

It’s important to understand that you need to be hiring the right carrier to deal with your waste, which is a message expressed following an incident that happened to this Spalding man. Unfortunately for this man, he received a fine of just over £1,000, all because the waste carrier who came to collect his waste had fly-tipped it around the corner and didn’t have a carrier’s license. The man admitted that the waste belonged to him and that he did not check to see if the carrier had a license. The court decided that corners were cut just to save a couple of pounds and that the guilty party failed to honour his duty of care when it came to his waste.

Dumping on an unlicensed ground

ITV news published this example that looks at the implications of dumping at an unlicensed location. This incident looks at three men in the Hampshire area, who were fined considerable amounts, as well as receiving a prison sentence. The three men were found guilty of illegally dumping piles of waste at an unlicensed site in Hulbert Road, Hampshire. Each working for different waste collection firms, were all suspended for 12 months, issued 12 weeks of imprisonment and shared a total of £3,500 worth of fines between them.

Although this may seem far-fetched, the total waste pile, cost around £100,000 to clear up, so those responsible for this illegal dumping only had to pay under 5% of the total clearance cost. All three failed to keep waste transfer notes, or to provide a registered waste carriers license.

Tackling Fly-tipping

The punishments may sound scary, but there’s always help available to tackle fly-tipping. Here, we look at some top tips on how to effectively report fly-tipping incidents, based on the different scenarios we’ve looked at:

When waste is fly-tipped on my land

When this occurs, it’s best to not panic and report it to the Environment Agency. Remember that you still have a responsibility, even if it isn’t your waste, as it has been dumped on your land. Fly-tipping is a criminal offence, so it will be treated as a criminal investigation which you could help solve and reduce that large yearly clear up figure.

Waste being collected by someone else

Once your waste is collected your still responsible. You may have found yourself a cheap waste collection company, but the fines involved will cost you a considerable amount more in the long run. So before booking with that cheaper removal company you have found, ask them for evidence, do they have a waste carriers license and is the waste going to a licensed dumping ground? Every waste company has an obligation to demonstrate where your waste has ended up. If they can’t evidence this then we’d suggest you don’t use them.

Clearing up the waste yourself

You may prefer to be more hands-on with your waste which you’d need to be careful with. When taking this approach, you need to ensure that you are taking your waste to a licensed dumping ground, or you could be in the same boat as the three men in Hampshire. Similarly, in some instances, you need to be sure that you have a waste carriers’ license, something that shows you are able to legally transport waste from one location to another.

Let’s end fly-tipping

From having a better understanding of our responsibilities with fly-tipping, we should hopefully see improvements and a reduced amount of incidents each year.

This article was produced in collaboration with SkipHire.

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