Calls for harsher penalties for fly-tippers

Fly-tipping causes huge damage and stress for farmers, but currently has few disincentives for anyone caught. As cases continue to rise, calls for harsher penalties have now come from a major collective of local authorities and professional bodies

Fly tipping has long been a blight on the countryside, untidy, dangerous and costly. The greatest victims are farmers and landowners who can be left with enormous bills to clear up other peoples messes.

And it is a problem which is only getting worse. According to the latest crime report from NFU Mutual fly tipping rose dramatically during the last year as the various lockdowns made it more difficult to access refuse and recycling centres.

Now a major coalition has been formed to call for tougher action against those who commit this awful crime. The Country Land & Business Association (CLA), together with over 150 local authorities and 10 professional bodies, is calling on the Sentencing Council to impose tougher fines and sentences for fly tipping culprits.

Mark Tufnell, Deputy President of the CLA which represents 28,000 farmers, land managers and rural businesses across England and Wales, said: “Fly-tipping continues to wreck the lives of many of us living and working in the countryside – and significant progress needs to be made to stop it.

“It’s not just the odd bin bag but large household items, from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.

“Currently, the maximum fine is £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates’ Court – but this is seldom enforced. Cracking down on this type of crime will only be achieved if tougher fines are imposed. This is why it’s crucial that the Sentencing Council listens to our concerns, and the signatories of the letter, to ensure the offenders are brought to justice.”

Now changes are being proposed to the Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline (2014), which currently sets out the sentencing for fly tipping. The CLA, working in partnership with a range of local authorities and professional bodies covering Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey and Warwickshire, has written a letter setting out reasoning and requests for improved sentencing.

The letter is asking the Sentencing Council to consider changes that would mean:

  • Court fines would exceed the cost of Fixed Penalty Notice fines and to include costs incurred by the public purse and the police in bringing a fly tipper to court.
  • Costs related to the clean-up of fly-tipping on private land and restoration of that land would be included in fines paid by those who are prosecuted.
  • If a defendant cannot pay the fine in full, or in part, it is strongly recommended that community-based sentences are more widely used and available across all offence categories.
  • More use of suspended prison sentences which has been proven to be a strong deterrent to serial fly-tipping offenders in Buckinghamshire
  • Anyone convicted of a second fly tipping offence is given a custodial sentence rather than another suspended sentence

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