Neil Parish MP: The Government must do more to prevent fly-tipping
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Chair Neil Parish MP writes in advance of his debate on Reducing fly-tipping, with in excess of 1 million cases reported in 2017 in England alone.
Fly-tipping has the potential to be dangerous to our health and is detrimental to the environment. Despite this, fly-tipping has been on the up since 2012. The number of cases reported has increased across the country, and with this, so has the cost of the clean-up operation. The cost to the taxpayer is now nearly £60 million a year. With fly-tipping on the rise, the Government needs to act. Fly-tipping is a crime and the penalties for it should demonstrate just how serious it is.
Last year, local authorities in England dealt with just over 1 million fly-tips which represents an increase of seven percent on the previous year – and that is just on public land. Private land owners are seriously affected too. The National Trust, one of our much loved and respected charities, experienced 232 cases of fly-tipping. This is up from 149 cases on the previous year.
Fly-tipping is not a victimless crime. We need a solution which will penalise those who commit the crime, not those who clean it up. Last year, Defra reported the cost of cleaning up fly-tips on public land was approximately £58 million. This is an increase of just over £8 million on the previous year. But, that £58 million is not the total cost of the clean-up. Private landowners, who are not included in Defra stats, each pay on average over £800 to clean up an individual fly-tip. And nearly two-thirds of farmers and landowners are affected by fly-tipping. The Government needs to do more to support landowners who are affected by fly-tipping. This could include a fund to help clean up fly-tipping, as well as helping them identify the source of the fly-tip so the perpetrator can be dealt with in court.
The increase in fly-tipping suggests the current enforcement rules are not working. Perpetrators simply do not see fly-tipping as a crime, and those who do take a calculated risk that the money they save when fly-tipping is worth it even if they are caught. Therefore, whilst it is good news the number of penalty fines have increased, these fines should be raised to a level which means perpetrators do not view fly-tipping as a risk worth taking.
The Government can also do more to educate people on the detrimental impact fly-tipping has on the environment. This will raise awareness of the impact a fly-tip might have on wildlife, or preventing farmers from growing food. In addition, councils should scrap payments for removing waste, such as white goods. White goods are amongst the most fly-tipped objects, with 55,000 dumped last year, up from 13,000 just six years ago. Councils could combine this policy with ensuring waste disposal sites are more accessible to everyone and therefore take away some of the incentive to fly-tip in the first place.
The increase in fly-tipping is a cause for concern. As its frequency increases, more and more communities are negatively impacted. It is good to see the Government has taken some action to reduce fly-tipping by issuing more fines. But it is not enough. Deterrents are only so effective. More preventative action needs to be taken. A fly-tipper’s selfish act sees money being diverted away from worthy causes into a clean-up operation which punishes people who did not perpetrate a crime in the first place.
I’m clear that this rise in fly tipping can’t continue. That’s why I want the government to increase anti-fly-tipping education, increase the cost of fines, and expand access to waste and recycling centres so we can prevent the fly-tipping at the source.
Neil Parish MP is the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton. He is the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.