Fly-tipped Waste: Who is responsible

When it comes to fly-tipped waste, do you know just how at risk you are? In this blog we look at what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming front page news.

As waste costs have steadily risen over recent years, combined with the global pandemic, an unfortunate consequence has been a huge increase in incidents of fly-tipping. A common misconception is that incidents of fly-tipping are focussed on quiet rural areas and country lanes, when in fact we’re seeing more and more instances occurring in inner city areas too.

When it comes to fly-tipping, do you know your responsibility when disposing of your waste?  It’s not just businesses that fall under legislation. Anyone looking to dispose of waste – which includes the hiring of a skip – has a responsibility to ensure its legal disposal.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

What is Fly-Tipping?

Keep Britain Tidy defines fly-tipping as “the illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it”. This means that fly-tipped waste can be anything from a single mattress to large amounts of construction waste; if it’s dumped on unlicensed land no matter how much of it there is, it’s still categorised as fly-tipping.

Is It Illegal?

Quite simply, yes. It is a serious criminal offence that could see anyone found guilty receive a hefty fine of up to £50,000 – as well as the risk of a prison sentence for repeat offenders.

But who is actually responsible? If you hire a business to dispose of your waste and they dump illegally – who is at fault?  And where does the blame lie?

When am I responsible for fly-tipped waste or at risk of prosecution?

Waste is illegally dumped on land that you own

Sadly, the burden of clearing this mess sits with you, the landowner.  This is why many businesses and land owners take care to secure property and land from unwanted visitors.

Land that you own is collecting/storing waste without a licence

This is technically an illegal disposal site.  It is an offence to store, collect waste without the appropriate licence from the Environment Agency and local authorities.

What about if the waste is yours and has been fly-tipped by a third-party waste carrier?

You find the cheapest skip hire provider on the market.  You pay your bill.  Only to find they have dumped the waste round the corner!  But it’s OK as it’s no longer your problem, right? WRONG!

The waste producer regulations mean the waste producer (simply put, the person that created the waste in the first place – in this instance YOU) has overall responsibility to ensure the waste you’re disposing of is done so correctly and legally.

What does this mean in reality?

Whenever disposing of waste at home or as a business you will need to ensure the company you are using has the right licences to do so.  As part of the disposal process a Waste Transfer Note will also be produced that shows the following:

  • What waste was collected
  • Where it was collected from
  • Who it was collected by
  • Where it was taken and disposed of

This is why it’s vitally important to always use a reputable waste management company and not just settle on the ‘cheapest’ or first you find.

Fly-Tipping scenarios

Below are recent examples of fly-tipping incidents that resulted in fines and prosecutions:

Unlicensed Waste Carrier

A land owner received a fine of just over £1,000 because the waste carrier he paid to dispose of his waste didn’t have a carriers’ licence and fly-tipped it around the corner rather than taking it to a licensed facility.

The man admitted that that the waste belonged to him, and that he did not check to see if the carrier had a licence. The court decided that corners were cut just to save a couple of pounds and that he failed to honour his duty of care for the disposal of the waste.


Unlicensed Dumping Ground

In this recent example, three men from Hampshire were ordered to collectively pay £3,500 and received suspended prison sentences for dumping waste at an unlicensed location. Instead of taking loads of waste to a registered facility, the men – all of which were from different waste firms – used the site as their own personal dumping ground. It was estimated to have cost approximately £100,000 to remove all the waste and return the site to its original condition.


How To Avoid being the next victim of Fly-Tipping

Whilst it’s always difficult to completely protect against this illegal activity – there are some steps you can take to help protect yourself.

Here are some top tips on how to effectively minimise the risk of fines or other penalties, based on a few hypothetical scenarios:

*If you find that waste has been fly-tipped on your land – don’t panic.  Make sure you report it to the Environment Agency as soon as possible. 

*Remember that you still have 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 if you fully co-operate, potentially increasing the chances of finding those responsible.

*If you are hiring a waste company to dispose of your waste – this includes things like Skip Hire – remember you are still responsible for your waste even after it has been collected.

*Before booking, make some simple checks, which can be done on the Environment Agency website:

  • Do they have a waste carriers’ licence?
  • Ask where are they taking your waste?
  • Is it a licensed site?

Every waste company has an obligation to demonstrate that your waste is being disposed of responsibly. If they can’t evidence this then we’d suggest you don’t use them.

123 Skip Hire is a fully-fledged Waste Management company with more than 20 years’ national experience.  So, before you book the cheapest provider you find, give us a call – it may save you some pennies in the long run.