Fly dumps have increased by nearly 38% over the past decade

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Wild dumps are a scourge for our cities, our villages and our beautiful countryside.

This is a serious and anti-social crime which costs us £392m a year and unduly disrupts UK businesses.

In my own riding, I hear far too many stories of hard-working farmers and landowners being forced to clean up the mess left behind by criminals.

We have to put an end to this.

As Environment Secretary, I am determined to tackle fly tipping – which has been a millstone around the necks of legitimate businesses and stunted economic growth for far too long – and to ensure that those responsible are face the full force of the law.

Make no mistake, we are making progress, both through our financial commitment to fight fly tipping and through reforms that help people do the right thing.

This year alone, we’ve given local councils across England a share of our £450,000 fly dump response fund, paying for measures such as the use of cutting-edge artificial intelligence and CCTV cameras to help them catch these rogue opportunists.

We consulted on plans that will end the need for households to pay to dispose of small-scale DIY waste, including plasterboard and bricks, at their local landfill, making it simpler and more convenient for people to do the right thing.

At the same time, we need to make sure that local tips are available nationwide and user-friendly, including being open when people need them.

Powers to fight the scourge of fly tipping

This builds on the range of powers we have already granted to the Environment Agency and local councils to tackle the scourge of fly tipping.

We made it easier to stop, search and seize vehicles suspected of being used for illegal dumping. Offenders now face a fine of up to £400 or up to five years in prison if found guilty in court.

Councils use these powers wisely. Indeed, over 75,000 notices of fixed fines were issued in 2019/20, an increase of 32% over the previous three years, while prosecutions increased by 87%.

We all have a duty to know where our waste goes. The increased use of technology is no doubt helping, with more councils now encouraging the public to use apps and online platforms to quickly and easily report this crime so authorities can take action.

But we know that there is still much to do. We know that fly-tipping rates have increased, particularly during the pandemic, which has resulted in additional challenges to keep trash collections underway and civic amenity sites open.

That’s why we need to go further and faster so that criminals don’t have a place to hide when they dump litter without thinking.

We will now reform the waste hauler licensing system to require stricter proficiency checks which, combined with mandatory waste tracking, will increase compliance and make it harder for criminals to take action.

We have also set up the Joint Waste Crime Unit to target organized crime and reduce its impact on both the environment and the economy. Through intelligence sharing and law enforcement, the unit succeeds in disrupting criminal gangs that use waste crime to complement other serious illegal activities.

These actions will significantly reduce opportunities for abuse of the waste system, while making it easier to prosecute waste criminals.

Because, when it comes to fly-tipping, enough is enough. We need to stay ahead of the criminals by keeping them out of the system.

By doing so, we can free up funds for councils to provide essential public services. We can enable businesses to continue to grow the economy. And we can make Britain a green and pleasant land.

Ranil Jayawardena is environment secretary

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