Fly-tipping: Somerset

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20th January 2022.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effects, if any, of the dumping of (1) disused vehicles, and (2) scrap metal, on Sites of Special Scientific Interest within the (a) Blackmore Vale Commons, and (b) Moors area, of Somerset.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Natural England is not aware of, or currently investigating, any recent incidences on the Blackmore Vale Commons and Moors SSSIs.

Local authorities are responsible for keeping relevant land (land, which is open to the air, under the direct control of the authority, and accessible to the public with or without payment, as defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990) clear of litter and refuse. Landowners are responsible for the land that they own.

Local and national park authorities (authorities) must remove abandoned vehicles from any land in the open air (including private land) and roads (including private roads). Authorities do not have to remove an abandoned vehicle if the cost of moving it from open land to the nearest convenient road is determined to be unreasonably high (for example, if special machinery is needed).

The Environment Agency has a role in circumstances where an incident may affect a watercourse and could potentially cause flooding or pollution. Both local authorities and the Environment Agency carry out investigations and can take enforcement action against fly-tipping.

If fly-tipping occurs on an SSSI, this would be investigated by Natural England and enforcement action taken if SSSI features have been damaged. Natural England can take enforcement action on the owner/occupier or third party who:

  • Intentionally or recklessly damages the SSSI
  • Destroys any of the features of special interest
  • Disturbs wildlife for which the site was notified
  • Carries out list operation without consent.

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