Fly tipping is an act which can blight the countryside and result in hazardous waste contaminating both wildlife and the land.
It is an illegal activity and carries a huge fine for those found guilty of the act, but did you know that as a householder you could be fined for not hiring a legitimate firm to remove your waste?
With an ever-increasing need to be aware of environmental issues, and the cost of fly tipping in the UK, here’s what you should know.
What is fly tipping?
Fly tipping is the term used to describe waste materials and products which are dumped illegally. The activity can take place anywhere but in many cases it is rural land and the countryside which are targeted as suitable sites to fly tip, because it’s easier to get away without being seen.
All kinds of waste materials might be fly tipped, from an excess of domestic waste to appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and washing machines. Builders’ and construction waste may also be fly tipped to avoid costs, along with vehicle parts, tyres, animal waste or hazardous materials.
Fly tipping costs local councils millions of pounds every year to clear up, and carries the potential to cause serious harm to the land, wildlife or children playing who encounter it. Those clearing up fly tipped waste also have to be very careful in case materials such as asbestos or medical waste are present.
The law treats fly tippers very seriously and carries the potential for a prison sentence of up to 5 years, as well as a fine of up to £50,000 in the Magistrates Courts, or if the case is heard in the Crown Court, an unlimited fine.
Assets and bank accounts can also be seized and frozen as a result of any conviction, plus guilty parties could be liable for clean-up costs. These can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and will be added on top of any fines.
However, although the law treats fly tippers very seriously, they aren’t the only ones who are considered to be responsible.
A recent case saw a householder in Somerset fined for using a contractor who advertised on Facebook to dispose of their waste. The contractor did not dispose of the waste responsibly as the householder believed they would, and instead fly tipped it. The waste was traced back to the house holder who was then fined by the courts for not using a legitimate firm.
Under the Environmental Protection Act, householders could be charged up to £5000 if they fail to take “reasonable measures” to ensure that the waste disposal company they hire is authorised to do so.
Therefore, although the law considers fly tippers legally responsible, house holders can also face a substantial penalty for failing to use a legitimate waste disposal company. Each case will be considered individually, with the courts deciding whether the proper due care and attention was exercised in choosing an appropriate waste management firm.
What you can do to protect yourself
When you’re looking for a waste management company, ensure that you only ever hire someone who is registered and licensed by the Environment Agency. A reputable company will also be happy to share details of their license number so you can check their credentials.
The company should be fully insured and when the rubbish is removed you should be given a Duty of Care waste transfer note.
Reston Waste Management is fully registered and licensed by the Environment Agency. Our Waste Carriers Registration Number is TNE/376953 and we are fully committed to abiding by only lawful practices.