Criminal punishments for fly-tipping must be increased for people to take them seriously, according to a top councillor and an anti-fly-tipping campaigning group.
Hampshire County Council has joined more than 150 other local authorities, campaign group ClearWaste and 10 professional bodies in calling for the Sentencing Council to enforce tougher guidelines on fly-tipping offenders.
Deputy council leader, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “Fly-tipping is an illegal activity which is predominantly perpetrated by a minority of unscrupulous individuals seeking to make a profit by avoiding commercial waste disposal costs.
“Currently, the punishment for the offence of fly-tipping is an insufficient deterrent because the sentences handed down do not always match the severity of the offence committed or fairly reflect the cost to the public purse.
“Ultimately, the costs incurred by local authorities in dealing with fly-tipping adversely impact council taxpayers and this is unjust.
“We have appealed to the Sentencing Council to review the current penalties and consider our recommendations for strengthening them.’
The local authorities are seeking tougher punishments for fly-tippers under a proposed review of the Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline (2014). If the proposed changes went through, court fines would include the cost incurred by the public and for the clean-up, and second convictions would lead to a custodial sentence.
Campaigner Martin Montague, founder of the fly-tip reporting app and website ClearWaste.com welcomed the intervention. “We’ve been saying for a long time that the authorities need to get tougher on fly-tippers,” he said.
“Fines need to be higher and repeat offenders need to be jailed. In addition to this, vehicles used for waste crime need to be seized.”
But he added that many local authorities are not taking enough action at present even when they have evidence linking fly-tipping to individuals and businesses to waste crime.
“We also know from our own research that councils are not fining or prosecuting as many waste criminals as they could be and this needs to change too,” said Mr Montague.
“Fly-tipping is a major problem in this country, whether it is in towns and cities or the countryside as in this case.
“In addition to being able to report fly-tipping anywhere in the country, we’ve also now added a price comparison system which allows consumers to find licensed waste companies to get rid of junk at reasonable prices. You can find out more at clearwaste.com/waste-removal
“This helps them avoid being ripped off by rogue traders who take their cash and then fly-tip the rubbish, leaving the householder at risk of a fine or prosecution.”
Photograph shows fly-tipping currently in a layby near Hambledon