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To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether there has been any increase in fly-tipping in the last five years; and what consideration they have given to legislative and regulatory reforms to support local authorities and the police in the prevention of such a crime.
Defra publishes annual fly-tipping statistics for England, which show that incidents of fly-tipping have gradually increased over the last five years, albeit with a decrease reported between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Defra most recently published the annual fly-tipping statistics on 7 November 2019. The 2018/19 figures reported an increase of 8% from those reported in 2017/18. However, this most recent increase in recorded incidents does not necessarily mean the number of fly-tipping incidents has increased. Local authorities have reported that as they make it easier for citizens to report fly-tipping, for example through mobile apps, they see an increase in the number of incidents recorded.
In recent years we have bolstered local authorities’ powers to tackle fly-tipping, including introducing new fixed penalty notices, and we continue to work with partners to tackle this unacceptable criminal activity. Defra is preparing a number of legislative reforms to tackle waste crime, including fly-tipping.
We are taking forward the commitment in the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) to develop proposals for the reform of the waste carrier, broker, and dealer regime. We are working with industry and the regulator and we intend to consult later this year. At the same time, we intend to consult on the introduction of mandatory electronic waste tracking. This will, amongst other things, reduce the ability of waste criminals to hide evidence of the systematic mishandling of waste material dropping out of the system and so make it easier to protect against fly-tipping. The reform aims to deter illegitimate operators from entering the sector. This will help to ensure that waste is dealt with appropriately and to reduce the incidence of waste crime and fly-tipping.
The newly introduced Environment Bill amends section 108 of the Environment Act 1995. This will make it easier for an officer to search premises that they have the power to enter, to seize and remove documentary or other evidence, to require electronic information to be produced in a form that enables it to be removed or produced as documentary evidence, and to operate equipment found on the premises to produce information from it. The new power does not require a warrant if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that first obtaining a warrant would allow for evidence to be concealed, altered or destroyed. Further to this, Schedule 11 of the Environment Bill removes the seven-day notice period required before powers of entry can be used to access residential premises. The current seven-day notice requirement enables, for example, rogue waste carriers who operate from their home address rather than a business address, to destroy evidence. These new powers will work to ensure waste criminals, such as illegitimate waste operators reliant on fly-tipping for income, are held accountable for their actions.
As well as forthcoming legislative reforms and recent fixed penalty notice powers, we recently published publicity materials to help householders better understand their responsibilities under the waste duty of care. The materials have been provided to the Local Government Association to circulate to local authorities, and published on the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group’s website. Householders have a legal ‘duty of care’ to ensure they only give their waste to a licensed carrier and that it is not taken by an illegal waste carrier who is likely to fly-tip it, but about two-thirds of fly-tipped waste is household waste.
A conviction in a Crown Court for fly-tipping can lead to an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison. Defra has worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for these offences, but will continue this work to help to secure tougher penalties in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment.
Defra is also developing a fly-tipping toolkit following a commitment in the RWS. The toolkit will be a web-based tool to help local authorities and others work in partnership to tackle fly-tipping. It will cover, for example, the use of new technology to report fly-tipping, the presentation of cases to court, the sharing of intelligence within and between partnerships and promoting the duty of care to individuals and businesses.