Fly-tipping — [Mr George Howarth in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:55 am on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Anne Marie Morris Anne Marie Morris Conservative, Newton Abbot 9:55 am, 17th April 2018

That is a very interesting point. That goes into the litter category, which the Minister has already begun to legislate on, and I would expand the category to cover that. In a sense, it is largely about intent. I think that littering is generally about being careless, which such a van owner would be, whereas fly-tipping is driven by economic gain. The formal sites are in a different category all of their own, as licensed operators. I urge the Minister to look at this more sensibly. As my hon. Friend Neil Parish has indicated, an important part of this is making the public aware.

A point about the responsibility and liability for those who create the waste was raised earlier. They are already liable and responsible under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. They are responsible for using those who dispose of waste in an appropriate and legal way. If they use an unlicensed organisation, they are responsible and can be fined. The problem is not that the legislation is not there; it is that it is incredibly hard to enforce.

With regard to raising awareness, there are some very simple things that could be done. First, every bin could have a label on it that says, “Be warned: unlicensed fly-tipping is illegal”—something catchy that makes people wake up to the fact that they are responsible and can be fined. There should be something making exactly the same point on every council tax bill that goes out. There are ways and means of doing this. If people realise that they can and will be fined, that will make a big difference.

For many of the cases in my constituency, the challenge has been evidence. Unless there is a photograph showing the dumping being done by a particular vehicle, the licence plate and the individual doing the dumping, it is hard to get a conviction. We should look at the evidence test, because perfection can be the enemy of the good. There are clear guidelines for holding people responsible that we cannot move beyond, but we must review the evidence that is required and look at what is reasonable in these circumstances to enable a conviction.

The agencies involved include the DVLA, which has been mentioned. The challenge is that the DVLA uses data protection to withhold information about the vehicle owner, as has happened to a number of my constituents. When I challenged the DVLA, it said, “Oh no, we normally give evidence in those circumstances,” but that is not the case. The Government should look at the stakeholders involved and at what we can do to enable such evidence as is available to be used.