How we can all fight fly-tipping
Fly-tipping is a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment, a blot on Somerset’s lovely landscape and a potential threat to human health and that of wildlife and domesticated animals through injury or by polluting the environment. There is no excuse for fly-tipping and we all need to fight it together. To report a fly-tipping incident or information about fly-tippers, see the advice below and contact your district council customer services.
Your legal duty of care
Everyone in Somerset can fight fly-tipping, from taking responsibility for your waste to helping catch offenders. Every individual and business has a duty of care over their waste, even after it has left their home or premises, and failure to take reasonable steps to do this risks prosecution and a £5,000 fine.
If you or your business pay someone to take your waste away – whether by man-with-a-van, builder, gardener or other tradesperson – it is important to check if they have a waste carrier’s licence and to ask where your waste will go. You can check they are registered as a ‘waste carrier, broker or dealer’ with the Environment Agency online or by calling 03708 506 506*.
District councils have responsibility for dealing with fly-tipping and fly-tippers on roadsides and public land. Tackling fly-tipping on private land is the responsibility of the landowner, as is any removal of what is then classified as commercial waste. Some district councils are able to offer a paid-for collection and 10 recycling sites offer a chargeable service of recycling or disposal for commercial waste.
Councils take action
Fly-tipping can range from individuals or businesses discarding rubbish and avoiding their legal responsibilities and costs to unscrupulous fly-tippers pretending to offer a waste disposal service. Among those who fly-tip are rogue tradespeople who dump the waste from their work, defrauding customers who think it has been correctly removed, undercutting legitimate businesses, and making council tax payers pay the clear-up costs.
Armed with enforcement officers, mobile CCTV and the assistance of the police, district councils have a choice of actions to take against fly-tippers, from warning letters and fixed penalty notices to prosecutions. One of the most important weapons to help fight fly-tipping and fly-tippers is information and evidence from the public, so please assist when you can.
Convicted offenders can face fines of up to £50,000 in magistrates’ courts, unlimited fines in higher courts, as well as community punishment orders or prison sentences of up to five years. Across Somerset, recent court cases have led to fines and costs of hundreds of pounds, community service orders and, for the offenders, unwelcome publicity so everyone in their community knows all about their crimes.
To help fight fly-tipping, the advice is simple:
Never fly-tip yourself; check that anyone taking waste away for you has the right licence and ask them where the waste will go. Never pay cash, always get a proper receipt, and record names, contact details and information about vehicles. Take particular care in using social media to get waste removed. If you know about those who fly-tip, inform your district council immediately.
If you see fly-tipping take no risks: do not touch anything fly-tipped or approach fly-tippers, but when it is safe, contact customer services at the district council with any details. This can include: the amount fly-tipped, possible contents from a visual check only, the location, time and date, whether it is in or near water, plus information about those who may be responsible, such as vehicle type, colour and registration number.
You can report fly-tipping anonymously, but your evidence could be vital to ensure a fly-tipper is caught and convicted so levels of fly-tipping are reduced. Just knowing that someone is prepared to give evidence may well convince an offender to admit their guilt.
There is no excuse for fly-tipping
All homes receive regular recycling and waste collections and have access to bulky waste services and a network of recycling sites throughout the county. There are also many options to allow waste to be reused and other alternatives for bulky waste collections.
All businesses are responsible for making their own arrangements to recycle or dispose of their waste and there are many companies providing these services, while 10 recycling sites accept paid-for rubbish and recycling.
So there is no excuse for fly-tipping, especially when it then has to be cleared up at significant cost to tax-payers or others.
(*Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and must count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls. These rules apply to calls from any type of line including mobile, BT, other fixed line or payphone.)