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Fly-tipping cases surged by 16% during pandemic

Fly-tipping cases surged by 16 per cent last year as local authorities were forced to deal with 1.13million cases of rubbish dumped on the nation's highways and beauty spots.

Government figures show the number of fly-tipping cases from 2020 to 2021 rose by 980,000 from the previous year, with household waste accounting for 65 per cent of the incidents. 

Debris was most commonly dumped on pavements and roads, making up 485 of every 1,000 cases, followed by footpaths and bridleways at 198 in every 1,000.

Meanwhile London was rated as the dirtiest region, with 43 fly-tipping incidents per thousand people in the region, while the South West was the cleanest, with 10 cases per 1,000 people. 

Despite the rise in cases, the number of court fines issued for fly-tipping dropped by 51 per cent to just 1,313 from 2,672 in 2019/2020 - with the total value of the fines decreased by 62 per cent to £440,000 from £1.2 million last year.

The number of enforcement actions carried out by councils also fell by four per cent to 456,000, compared to 474,000 in 2019 to 2020. 

Mounds of rubbish, including wooden doors, a sofa and car tyres, strewn across an area in Newport this year

Pieces of wood, broken furniture, tiles and bricks were left across a deserted roadside in Newport 

A fishing boat was dumped outside a primary school in Berkshire this year, prompting council bosses to offer £100 gift cards for information that might lead to arrest

While the number of fixed penalty notices dropped by 24 per cent to 57,600 in 2020/2021 from 75,400 the year before.

The Government data also showed the most common quantity of rubbish to be dumped was equivalent to a small van load, accounting for 34 per cent of total cases, followed by a load of a car boot size or less at 26 per cent.

Around 39,000 cases of dumped waste were classed as enough to fill a tipper lorry, making up 4 per cent of the total and up from 16 per cent in 2019 to 2020 when this figure was 33,000.

Clearing up all the large fly-tipping incidents also cost local authorities in England £11.6 million, up from £10.9 million the previous year.

Highways were the most common land type for fly-tipping incidents, accounting for 43 per cent of all incidents from 2020 to 2021. 

While fly-tipping on council land, and 'footpaths and bridleways', each made up around 17 per cent of all incidents.     

Explaining the latest data, the Government noted that last year's figures covered the first national coronavirus lockdown imposed in March 2020, which impacted many local authorities' recycling programmes.

Some suspended collection of dry recycling, and others also pausing garden and bulky waste collection.

There were also widespread closures of household waste recycling centres, although many later reopened following updates to social distancing guidance. 

Government data shows fly-tipping cases surged by 16 per cent last year, with 1.13million cases of rubbish dumped on the nation's highways and beauty spots

London was rated as the the dirtiest region, with 43 fly-tipping incidents per thousand people in the region, while the South West was the cleanest, with 10 cases per 1,000 people

Highways have consistently been the most common land type for fly-tipping incidents, accounting for 43 per cent of all incidents in 2020/21

Changes to household purchasing during lockdown, as well as changes to travel and leisure may also have driven the increase in fly-tipping, the Government said.

Staff shortages within local authorities, staff being furloughed or redeployed may also have reduced the number of investigations that were conducted. 

Many local authorities reported that closures to courts at a certain point over the last year's lockdowns impacted the number of prosecution actions undertaken.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents rural businesses in England and Wales, remarked that the figures probably only tell half the story, as they only cover fly-tipping on public land.

It said the 'vast majority' of fly-tipping occurs on private land, with one of its members facing a £100,000 bill to clear up just one incident.

Mark Tufnell, president of the CLA, said: 'These figures do not tell the full story of this disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside.

'Local authorities tend not to get involved with clearing incidences of fly-tipped waste from private land, leaving the landowner to clean up and foot what is often an extortionate bill.' 

People dump waste across a roadside in Newport amid a rising number of fly-tipping cases in the UK

He continued: 'Fly-tipping continues to wreck the lives of many of us living and working in the countryside - and significant progress needs to be made to stop it.

'It's not just the odd bin bag but large household items, from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.'

In April, Wokingham Borough Council said they were hunting for the fly-tippers who dumped a yellow boat outside a primary school in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

It came just days before a mobile home - which would have cost the owners thousands of pounds when first bought - was also found discarded in the area. 

In September Bradley Lynn, 23, and Connor Williams, 28, were caught on camera plaguing neighbourhoods with mounds of rubbish - but avoided jail and instead had to pay a fine of just £400 each. 

The fly-tippers were caught on camera carrying stacks of waste to dump at deserted roadsides in Newport, South Wales. 

But the pair were spared prosecution, and fined just £400 each, as well as costs of £1,100 and a victim's surcharge of £40.