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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:18 pm on 24th May 2022.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson Conservative, South Staffordshire 3:18 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 debate.

We have heard already about the impact of fly-tipping right across the country. We have heard how it blights communities and disrupts people’s lives. In South Staffordshire, sadly, we often have to deal with industrial-scale fly-tipping—not just a mattress, sofa or small items of building products, but large truckloads abandoned in woods and on the roadside. That has an enormously high cost, be that for the landowner or the local authority. Even more importantly, it blights the local community in such a dreadful way.

We know that the cost of disposal is high. For an individual or an authority that has to dispose of fly-tipped goods, the average cost is £800. The Minister will probably talk about the large fines that can be levied on fly-tippers—she will probably mention that a fine of up to £50,000 can be levied. If she does, I hope she also mentions how many individuals have been charged that top fine of £50,000. I know that in the past it has been exceptionally rare, so I hope she will cover that.

A few years ago, the Government made an important move by giving local authorities the ability to levy on-the-spot fines. That had an initial impact, but it does not go far enough. The largest fine they can levy is £500. As has already been touched on by my hon. Friend Anthony Mangnall, the cost of actually bringing a prosecution averages between £1,500 and £2,000. The investment that needs to be made by local authorities to catch these criminals can often be substantial.

I would like to make a suggestion to my hon. Friend the Minister. As she will be aware, the Queen’s Speech included the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. What better way to level up and improve communities than by having that Bill address fly-tipping? I suggest to the Minister—she could go back to the Department and claim that this is all her own work—that the limit for on-the-spot fines levied by local authorities should be increased dramatically to £5,000. People who dump rubbish would then feel the pain for causing disturbance, nuisance and vandalism to our countryside.

Will the Minister also consider amending legislation so as to enable local authorities to make better use of closed-circuit television in a concealed environment? So often, fly-tipping occurs regularly in spots across the countryside because they are conveniently located close to main arterial roads. Changing the legislation to enable local authorities to make better use of concealed CCTV would have an enormous impact by increasing the number of fly-tippers they could catch. It would allow local authorities to keep those fines, creating the incentive to go after the fly-tippers.