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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:39 am on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 10:39 am, 17th April 2018

I do not know whether satellite technology would help us in this case, and I am not an expert on how best to present evidence to get a conviction. However, I will certainly ensure that the point is understood by my officials, so that they can raise it with the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group and the police.

Local councils, as the responsible authorities, have a significant role to play in tackling fly-tipping on private land. Fly-tipping gangs dump waste irrespective of whether the land is publicly or privately owned, and all local councils should therefore investigate fly-tipping incidents on private land. If there is evidence, they should prosecute the fly-tippers, and they can then recover clearance costs via the courts, as I have just outlined. However, not all councils are minded to do that, and only about half are actively trying to tackle the issue.

I am very alert to the challenges regarding council resources. Colleen Fletcher praised her council but was concerned about the available resources. I gently point out that although Coventry City Council’s website states that support from central Government has fallen—in 2010-11, £153 million came from the revenue support grant and business rates, and that is now £122.5 million—that is not quite a reduction of the level that I thought I heard the hon. Lady describe, which was considerably higher. I emphasise, however, that councils have many more powers and the opportunity to recoup costs, and it matters that they use those powers if the issue is a local priority. However, the national Government cannot force councils to do so.

I encourage all councils to be alert to fly-tipping and to use their powers. When councils ask us for powers, we will try to ensure that they get those powers in the future. Councils currently have more than 20 powers to choose from to tackle fly-tipping, and we have recently spent time working in Committees to give them more. We have strengthened a council’s ability to search and seize the vehicles of suspected fly-tippers, and we have introduced a fixed penalty notice for small-scale fly-tipping. An additional 20,000 fixed penalty notices were issued in 2016-17, but not all councils have decided to implement those powers. Again, I strongly encourage them to do so.