Fly tipping definition

Fly Tipping

Advice for victims of fly tipping


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Fly Tipping

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Advice to follow when you’re a victim of fly-tipping

It’s becoming a more common route for waste disposal — fly-tippers are illegally taking advantage of unprotected land to get rid of their waste throughout the UK. For those who have seen their land become a site for fly-tipping, we have prepared this guide on what you can do, as well as steps which can be taken to reduce the chance of it occurring in the first place:   

What is fly-tipping and what items are the most common?

Fly-tipping is illegally disposing of waste on land that is not registered to receive it — whether this is knowledgeable to the landowner or done with a felonious mindset. Lycetts, farm estate insurance, found that the most common types of waste in fly-tipping incidents were:

  • Construction waste, such as concrete.

  • Bedroom furniture, most commonly mattresses.

  • Garden waste and tyres.

Is fly-tipping a common occurrence?

According to Keep Britain Tidy’s CEO, Allison Ogden-Newton, the problem in the UK is at “crisis levels” — this comment followed a report in The Daily Telegraph that suggested that it has worsened over time, after a freedom of information request was carried out by ITV News.

In council-ran regions, fly-tipping has been growing by a fifth every year according to the same report from The Daily Telegraph. For example, almost 40,000 reported incidents were recorded in the North London district of Haringey between November 2015 and December 2016, with more than 30,000 incidents also reported in Manchester over the same period.

Although in some areas of the country, fly-tipping is decreasing — but local authorities have said it has become just as hard to annihilate the problem entirely. In Birmingham, for instance, the number of fly-tipping cases dropped 13 per cent between November 2015 and December 2016. However, the figure during this period was still recorded at 21,000 offences.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Officer went on to say: "Fly-tipping is an epidemic, it's reached crisis levels and something needs to be done about it. Local authorities are overwhelmed with instances of criminal fly-tipping and we need to address this urgently."

According to research carried out by James Cuthbertson, an account executive at Lycetts, fly-tipping in Scotland is becoming a large environmental problem. Near to 61,000 fly-tipping incidents are recorded in this country every single year, Mr Cuthbertson has found.

“The culprits tend to think of this practice as a victimless crime; but estimates put the cost to Scottish tax payers at £8.9 million a year to clear and dispose of tipped rubbish from council land. Farmers and other countryside custodians must meet the cost of clearing rubbish from private land themselves, at an average of £1,000 a time.” Commented Cuthbertson who works for Lycetts.

Are culprits being prosecuted?

Although councils are trying to deter people from fly-tipping, it is becoming more of a problem. According to figures obtained from the BBC, a total of 1,602 prosecutions for fly-tipping were carried out across England between 2016 and 2017. What’s more, 98 per cent of prosecutions made resulted in a conviction. During the same time period, councils across England served 56,000 fixed penalty notices with regard to cases of fly-tipping.

The forfeits of fly-tipping

Those who are brought to justice for their fly-tipping activity can receive a fine (which is unlimited in amount) and up to five years imprisonment.

If you allow people to distribute their waste on your land, you’re instantly committing a fly-tipping offence.

“Fines of up to £40,000 can be imposed but, given budgetary constraints, the pursuit of fly tippers is well down the list of priorities of councils and the police. Furthermore, it is hard to gather evidence to bring a successful prosecution,” James Cuthbertson said.

Instructions for fly-tip victims:

Once somebody has fly-tipped on your land, you become responsible for its removal — even though you may not have had any connection with its placement.

The waste dumped could be hazardous, so landowners must be careful when approaching. Therefore, bags and drums should not be opened and piles of soil should be a cause for alarm bells as the material could be contaminated or hiding dangerous material.

Once you’ve noticed the waste, begin to record all details about it. This includes where you located the waste, as well as taking photographs, if possible. After all details have been recorded, report the case of fly-tipping to your local authority:

  • Those in England and Wales should head to this GOV.UK page and report fly-tipping by first entering the postcode where the waste has been discovered.

  • Those in Scotland should report fly-tipping waste by either filling in a simple online form on or contacting Stopline directly by calling 0845 2 30 40 90.

  • Those in Northern Ireland should head to and find details for their local council, who will be able to advise on the waste disposal sites and recycling centres based nearby for the safe and legal recycling or disposal of unwanted items.

Once fly-tipping waste has been reported, look to secure the waste so that it is unable to be interfered with or added to.

When your waste is in the process of being removed, there are a few things that you must do. First and foremost, do not take the waste to a licensed site yourself unless you’re registered as a waste carrier. If hazardous waste has been identified, it should only be carried and then disposed of by someone who is licensed to deal with hazardous waste.

If your waste is being removed by an external organisation, you must keep a document of who it is and list the costs — this can be refunded when the prosecution occurs if it proves to be successful.

James Cuthbertson went on to say: “In the event you wake one morning to find the midnight cowboys have paid you a visit, if the problem is severe, it is worth consulting with your insurance broker.”

“Most farm combined policies will cover the cost of removal and disposal, less an excess. In the event of a major fly-tipping incident, you could be very glad the cover is in place.”

Witnessing fly-tipping on your land could urge you to approach the criminals, but you must remain safe. As the practice is illegal, people are unlikely to take kindly to their crime being observed. Do not confront the guilty parties, but instead immediately call 999 and then make a note the number of people involved, descriptions of their appearances, details about the waste being fly-tipped, and information about any vehicles used — this includes the makes of the vehicles, their colours and their registration numbers if you can make them out.

Reducing the risk of becoming a fly-tipping location

Empty land is a common place for fly-tippers to do their business, but there a few steps you can take to prevent this from happening entirely.

Protecting your land by installing gates is something that should be considered, you’ll be able to relax peacefully knowing that when you’re not onsite, people can’t access your land. Boulders and tree trunks are another feature that many people use to block pathways that become potential entry points.

Fly-tippers do not want to get caught because the penalties they would face are not worth it. Therefore, work on improving visibility all around your property and its land, make sure high-quality exterior lighting is installed and in working condition, and set up CCTV cameras and appropriate signs alerting people of the technology’s presence.

Additional sources:

Allotment websites
Garden tools
Allotment websites