Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste. There has been a significant rise in the amount of fly-tipping incidents in recent years and Councils are clamping down on the disposal of domestic waste, especially in London. Those who are found guilty of fly-tipping, following a prosecution, could receive a substantial fine and/or a custodial sentence.
Government consultation proposals
Government have proposed new powers in relation to fly-tipping. The powers are divided into three sections:
- Raising the standard of operator competence across all permitted waste sites by strengthening the regulators’ assessment and enforcement abilities.
- Reforming the waste exemptions regime within the waste permitting system.
- Introduction of a new Fixed Penalty Notice for Household Duty of Care offence for fly-tipping
Householders and businesses have a duty of care to ensure that their waste is transferred to authorised persons or deposited in designated bins. Those who do not take reasonable steps to ensure their rubbish is not being taken away by an unauthorised person or disposed of properly will be liable to receive a fine from the council. If someone dumps rubbish on your land, you will be responsible for its disposal. However, you should still report this to your local council.
The Council can give out a fixed penalty notice with a maximum fine of £400. However, fly-tipping is a criminal offence, under s33(1)(a) Environmental Protection Act 1990. It is defined as depositing controlled waste, or to knowingly cause or permit controlled waste to be deposited in or on any land unless a waste management licence authorises the deposit. If charged with this offence, you can be tried and/or sentenced in the Magistrates or Crown Court depending on the seriousness. The Magistrates’ Court can fine up to £50,000 and/or sentence to six months custody. The Crown Court can give an unlimited fine and/or imprison for up to five years.
Interviews under caution
It is not uncommon nowadays for local councils to invite alleged offenders to attend for a formal interview under caution. This can be in addition to receiving a fixed penalty notice. In recent times, it is not uncommon for householders to be invited in for an interview because rubbish has been disposed of in place which is not considered a designated place. In other words, it was deposited somewhere which is not considered to be permitted. This could be a bin on the street rather than bins provided for by the council to be used by the household. This causes a number of issues, the most common of which in our experience being the lack of knowledge of the person whose waste is under consideration. In these scenarios, the council often appear reluctant to accept innocent explanations and so often a person is given a stark choice between accepting a considerably expensive fixed penalty notice knowing that they are not guilty of offence, or face being prosecuted and face the prospect, therefore, of being convicted and having a criminal record. This is entirely unfair and no doubt very worrying for those affected.
We would strongly anyone invited in for an interview to arrange for representation and in the event of formal prosecution to instruct lawyers to defend their position. Representation at interviews under caution is free for defendants.