Fly-tipping and Illegal Dumping — [SIR MARK HENDRICK in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:10 pm on 24th May 2022.

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Photo of Paul Bristow Paul Bristow Conservative, Peterborough 3:10 pm, 24th May 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Mark. I congratulate my hon. Friend Saqib Bhatti on securing this important debate.

Fly-tipping is a consistent problem in Peterborough. Two years ago I raised the local issues in my constituency at length in an Adjournment debate. I am sick to death of seeing hotspots in my constituency. The junction between Norwood Lane and Newborough Road is a particular problem. As many hon. Members have said, the question is not whether this is an urban or rural issue—it affects both settings. Urban communities such as Bretton and Ravensthorpe in my constituency are plagued by it, as are rural villages such as Thorney and Newborough.

I will not take up Members’ time by talking at length, not least because the issues from two years ago have not changed. We need more powers to combat fly-tipping. Along with others, I called for higher fines beyond the current fixed penalty notice limits, argued for a zero-tolerance approach, made the case for new Government guidance, and suggested better tools and resources for local authorities. The Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow, expressed lots of sympathy, noted that the legal issues involved were complicated, cited some positive-sounding statistics, and urged patience. To her credit, since then enforcement action has risen, but so have incidents of fly-tipping. We need the online fly-tipping toolkit. Much of the guidance still offers less than zero tolerance.

Since taking over this brief, my the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Jo Churchill has announced that people will no longer have to pay to dispose of DIY waste, which will make a real difference. She has also advanced the move towards digital waste tracking, with powers and penalties to match. I gather that the first element of the toolkit is near to launch, which is music to my ears. She has also questioned whether fixed penalty notice fines are high enough to act as a deterrent. I welcome what she has done, but I also pass on to her the desire of my constituents in Peterborough for the Government to keep going, and to go further.

One easy step would be to revise the two guidance documents that I cited two years ago: “Fly-tipping: council responsibilities” and “Household waste duty of care: fixed penalty notice guidance”. They have not changed. The language and direction could be far more robust, and they are far from the only instances. Moreover, I understand that that upping the penalty limits would require legislation, so I hope that the Minister will look at whether that can be done.

As has been said, fly-tipping is often the result of organised crime. That is absolutely right. It is often the case in rural settings and we need to crack down on it. Enough is enough. Our communities should no longer be used as dumping grounds. We need zero tolerance, stricter fines, CCTV enforcement and stronger guidance from the Government. Fly-tipping blights too many of our communities. It is time for us to act and to start driving the number of incidents down.