Councils have called on the Government to “urgently streamline” the courts and prosecution process for fly-tipping offences. The Local Government Association said the cost to taxpayers of clearing up fly-tipping rose to £57m over the last year – a rise of 13%.
Its analysis found that in 2016/17, there were 492,139 incidents of fly-tipping reported to be the size of a van or truck.
“If these vehicles were parked one behind the other, then the amount of waste would be able to circle the M25 twelve and a half times over; it would also stretch the length of Wembley football pitch 22,446 times over,” the LGA claimed.
The Association said it welcomed the Government recently allowing councils to apply fixed penalty notices to fly-tippers.
However, it argued that streamlining the process of prosecuting the worst offenders was essential if local authorities were to be able to recover the costs of prosecutions and truly tackle fly-tipping.
“Currently, when taking offenders to court, councils have to cover the full cost of successful prosecutions, with fines resulting from these convictions being paid directly to the court, rather than the councils who have to clean up the mess,” it said.
Recovery of costs through these fines was costly and could even take years, which often meant councils ended up making a net loss on every successful prosecution, the LGA said, adding that this was “unsustainable” given the funding shortfall councils in England faced.
Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Environment spokesman, said: “Fly-tipping is unsightly and unacceptable environmental vandalism. This new analysis shows the scale of the fly-tipping epidemic we face in this country. It’s an absolute disgrace for anyone to think that they can use the environments in which our residents live as a repository for litter.
“Councils are determined to protect local environments. New fixed penalty notice powers from the Government will help but every single conviction for more serious fly-tipping offences still results in council taxpayers having to pick up the bill.
“We need to make sure that when councils take offenders to court, a faster, more effective legal system ensures that serious fly-tipping offences result in hard-hitting fines.
“Manufacturers can also contribute, by providing more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones. Councils are determined to end the scourge of fly-tipping and always urge residents to report fly-tipping as soon as possible.”