Landowners' body calls for maximum penalties for flytipping scourge
Thursday 16th May 2019
A RURAL landowners' body has urged local authorities to "take flytipping seriously" as new figures show none has imposed the maximum penalties on offenders since they were brought in five years ago.
The CLA says illegal dumping incidents in England have risen by nearly 40% in that time, to almost one million in 2017/18.
The Maidstone borough is blighted with almost daily instances of unsightly and dangerous flytipping.
Leeds councillor Gill Fort has long called for stiffer penalties and more surveillance by Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) to tackle the scourge.
Government introduced new sentencing guidelines in 2014, with a £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison the maximum punishment, if a case is dealt with at a magistrates' court.
CLA South East, an influential pressure group representing farmers and rural businesses across Kent, is now calling on councils and courts to take robust action to deter potential flytippers.
Regional Director Robin Edwards said: “There were nearly one million cases of fly-tipping recorded by local authorities in 2017/18, though the true figures are likely to be significantly higher as predominantly the statistics do not include incidents on private land, where the landowner has responsibility to oversee the clearance and cost for waste removal.
"The CLA estimates it costs a farmer or landowner an average of £844 to clear up each incident, while the environmental damage can be considerable.
“We appreciate that councils have budgetary pressures, but failing to tackle the menace of fly-tipping could ultimately make their financial situations worse if it means they end up facing increased clean-ups costs dealing with more dumped rubbish.
“The message needs to be sent loud and clear that dumping waste will not be tolerated, and those who do it will be prosecuted.
“Imposing and enforcing stiffer penalties which better reflect the seriousness of the crime is crucial, along with seizing the vehicles used to fly-tip.”
Analysis by the Local Government Association reveals that no-one convicted of fly-tipping since the Government introduced new guidelines in 2014 has been slapped with the maximum £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison by the courts.
This is despite fly-tipping incidents rocketing by 39.6 per cent since 2012, up from 714,637 to 997,553 in 2017/18.
Meanwhile Kent County Council is to charge £6 per plasterboard bag and £4 per bag of soil, rubble and hardcore at its recycling centres from 3 June. Mr Edwards added: “Much good work is being done in the county to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping, but introducing new charges for disposing of items such as rubble and plasterboard is unlikely to help in the war against dumped waste.
“In many parts of Kent the number of fly-tipping cases is rising, blighting the Garden of England, with 20,000 incidents recorded a year. It would be very disappointing if the numbers were to grow even bigger as a result of these new fees.”
Cllr Fort has been fighting for years to get action in Burberry Lane which is targeted almost every week and despite calls for CCTV to be installed, nothing has been done and no one prosecuted.
Cllr Fort added: "I support the CLA in this. We need to be more proactive and impose the maximum fines we can. I believe that financial penalties work better than mimprisonment. MBC is not doing anywhere near enough."
When Downs Mail pressed MBC for its stance on flytipping in March, the authority said: "The Waste Crime Team will continue to take action against fly tippers and illegal waste carriers from seizing vehicles, issuing fixed penalty notices, prosecutions Etc. publicising our successes and working with other agencies to help take the fight to the fly tippers."
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