Fly-tipping Commercial Waste: What Businesses Need to Know
Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste materials in places not designated for waste disposal or by those without the proper licence to dispose of that waste. Commercial fly-tipping involves waste originating from a business and commercial activities, such as construction sites, factories, and retailers.
From a legal perspective, it is important to be aware that fly-tipping is a criminal act. Those found guilty of fly-tipping may face punishment in the form of fines or Fixed Penalty Notices. Individuals may be summoned to court and risk hefty prison sentences.
Unfortunately, the issue is only becoming more common. In 2020/21, local authorities in England dealt with 1.13 million incidents — an increase of 16% on the previous year. A significant factor is the prevalence of organised criminals offering commercial fly-tipping. Any attempt to avoid fees and taxes in this way is likely to result in a commercial fly-tipping penalty.
If your business has been accused of fly-tipping, it is important to realise that there are potential defence options. In many cases, businesses are involved unwittingly due to having trusted the wrong people with the disposal of their waste. Understanding your legal positions and defence options is critical, as is the right legal support.
In this article, we will cover:
- What is classed as fly-tipping?
- Is fly-tipping an offence?
- What is the correct way to dispose of commercial waste?
- How does fly-tipping occur?
- What is the punishment for fly-tipping?
- Who can be prosecuted for fly-tipped waste?
- What can you do if you are accused of fly-tipping?
- Can you get out of a fixed penalty notice for fly-tipping?
Please note: This article should not be taken as specific legal advice. If you need help with a dispute in relation to fly-tipping or any related matter, please contact our team and we will be happy to assist.
Contact us today in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or email us at email@example.com.
What is classed as fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping refers to the illegal dumping of waste materials in an unauthorised area and without proper, legal disposal methods. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, fly-tipping is defined as the unauthorised deposit of waste onto land or into water. This applies to both private and public land.
Some examples of waste that is illegally disposed of in this way include:
- Household waste
- eg. Furniture, mattresses, kitchen appliances
- Construction and demolition waste
- eg. concrete, bricks, and rubble.
- Garden waste
- eg. tree branches, leaves, grass cuttings.
- Hazardous waste
- eg. asbestos, chemicals, medical waste.
- Industrial waste
- eg. solvents, oils, scrap metal
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence that can result in significant fines and even imprisonment, regardless of whether the waste originated from a residential property or commercial company.
Fly-tipping can also occur when waste is kept, stored, treated, or disposed of on unauthorised land and without a valid waste management licence. This means that even if the waste was not dumped on the land, the act of storing, keeping, treating, or disposing of it in an unauthorised manner can still constitute an offence.
What is the correct way to dispose of commercial waste?
The correct way to dispose of commercial waste in the UK is to use an authorised waste management service that is licensed to handle the specific type of waste. This helps to ensure that waste is disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
This includes using household waste collection services provided by the local council, taking waste to a licensed recycling facility, or arranging for a private waste management company to collect and dispose of the waste. Recycling facilities sort and process the waste materials so that they can be reused or recycled.
A genuine waste carrier will ensure that they have the necessary licences and registrations to operate legally. This includes a verified waste carrier licence issued by the Environment Agency, which can be confirmed by checking their details on the agency’s website. Additionally, they will be registered with the Environment Agency and be able to provide site licence details of the authorised waste disposal facility.
When collecting and disposing of waste, a legitimate waste carrier will also provide proof of where the waste was taken, including an official weight ticket that identifies the disposal site. They will also supply a waste transfer note upon request, which provides details about the waste being transported and its intended destination. These measures ensure that waste is being disposed of in a legal and responsible manner.
How does fly-tipping occur?
Commercial fly-tipping can occur when a company decides to illegally dump waste in order to avoid paying the costs of proper disposal. Commercial fly-tipping also occurs when companies use non-licensed waste management actors that offer to dispose of their waste at a low cost.
These companies may claim to be licensed and authorised when, in reality, they are not. In this scenario, the waste may be dumped illegally, without the knowledge of the company that produced it. This would lead to serious legal and financial consequences for the company that produced the waste.
Another way that fly-tipping can occur is when a company hires a waste management company that they assume is legitimate, which then subcontracts the waste disposal to a third-party company that is not authorised or licensed to handle the waste. In this scenario, the waste may be dumped illegally, without the knowledge of the company that produced it.
What is the punishment for fly-tipping?
The Environmental Protection Act (1990) does not specify a minimum fine for illegally depositing waste. The independent courts are responsible for determining the appropriate sentence in individual cases. In addition to fines, there are other penalties that may be imposed, such as Fixed Penalty Notices and the confiscation of assets. Fly-tippers may face a prison sentence, depending on the severity of the offence.
Who can be prosecuted for fly-tipped waste?
In the UK, ignorance of the law is not considered a defence in cases of fly-tipping. All parties involved in the act of fly-tipping may be prosecuted. This includes both the person or company who produced the waste and the person or company who failed to dispose of it properly. In terms of commercial waste disposal, the onus is on the company to find an authorised and legitimate waste carrier.
What can you do if you are accused of fly-tipping?
If you have been accused of fly-tipping, it is important to seek legal advice from a qualified and experienced solicitor who specialises in this area. At Wells Burcombe, our business crime defence solicitors possess expert knowledge and experience in handling these matters.
It is important to act quickly if you have been accused of fly-tipping, as failure to respond promptly or adequately can result in more severe penalties. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible can help to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair hearing.
Can you get out of a fixed penalty notice for fly-tipping?
If you have been issued with a commercial fly-tipping penalty, you have the right to challenge that decision. While the process can vary depending on the circumstances, it is always important to seek legal advice. This can significantly boost your chances of avoiding a fixed penalty notice.
Contact our solicitors in London and St Albans
The expert team at Wells Burcombe Solicitors will help you determine the best course of action.