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Westminster Hall Debate, Fly Tipping, 6 February 2024

Fly-tipping is inexcusable. It is not only an eyesore for residents, but a serious public health risk, creating pollution and attracting rats and other vermin. We are calling on Government to remove the cap on fixed penalty notices.

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Key messages

  • The Local Government Association, is calling on Government to remove the cap on fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping, littering and graffiti. Locally determined fines will help provide local authorities with the funding they need to investigate and prosecute fly-tippers.  
  • Currently, enforcement actions on fly-tipping are divided between local authorities and the Environment Agency, with local councils addressing small-scale incidents and the Environment Agency handling large-scale or criminal activity. 
  • The LGA wants to work with the government and the sentencing council to review court guidance, ensuring stringent fines for the worst offenders and providing adequate funding for councils to investigate and prosecute fly-tippers. Councils face financial challenges in prosecuting fly-tippers, with fines issued by courts often lower than civil penalties. It is essential for courts to properly prosecute to deter repeat offenses. 
  • Adequate and long-term funding is crucial for councils to effectively prosecute fly-tippers, develop litter strategies, and implement best practice. 
  • There is a need to update sentencing guidelines for Magistrates courts to make prosecuting fly-tippers more consistent and to act as a deterrent. 


Responsibility over enforcement action on fly-tipping is currently split across local authorities and the Environment Agency. Councils have the powers to tackle small scale fly-tipping. Powers to tackle large scale fly-tipping or waste tipping linked to criminal activity sit with the Environment Agency. 

The LGA has long called for flexibility and locally determined fines, while we welcomed the Government’s decision to increase fines for fly tipping, littering and graffiti, new powers do not go far enough, and local authorities would like to see the cap on fixed penalty notices removed. 

We want to work with Government and the sentencing council on reviewing guidance to the courts to ensure the worst offenders face tougher fines, and councils have the funding needed to investigate and prosecute fly-tippers. 

Councils want courts to look at fly-tipping as an offence first, rather than at the individual and their ability to pay, as well as more use of suspended sentences, or custodial sentences for anyone convicted of a second fly-tipping offence. For councils to be able to effectively prosecute fly-tippers, develop litter strategies and put the best local actions in place, councils must be adequately funded and given long term funding certainty.  

Sentencing guidelines for Magistrates courts need to be updated to make prosecuting fly-tippers less of a lottery for councils and deter criminals. Taking criminals to court costs councils time and money but is the right thing to do ensure that offenders are appropriately reprimanded and receive a criminal record for fly-tipping. However, fines issued by courts following criminal proceedings are low, and averaged less (£526) than the £1000 fixed penalty notice councils can issue as a civil action. In addition to the low fines, councils are often left out of pocket from court action as their costs are not fully repaid.  

We believe it’s crucial for the courts to properly prosecute these criminals to deter them from fly-tipping again. Issuing a fixed penalty notice can work for a one-off fly-tipping offence but figures show a rise in criminal operators making a business out of illegal waste dumping. Fly-tipping is criminal activity and is a blight on our public spaces. The individuals responsible for it must be held accountable and prosecuted.  

Annual fly-tipping statistics for England 2022/23 reveal that there has been a decrease in fly-tipping over that period, this decrease is positive, and a testament to the hard work of councils. Manufacturers should also contribute to the costs to councils of clear up, by providing more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones. 

Case studies

Councils understand the critical role that householders play in tackling waste crime. The S.C.R.A.P campaign is designed to educate members of the public about waste crime and how to avoid criminals posing as legitimate waste operators. The campaign was developed by the Hertfordshire Fly-Tipping Partnership, and it has been adopted by many other councils. 

Keep Britain Tidy has awarded nearly £780,000 to 21 local authorities in England. The projects delivered with this funding reveal how effective councils can be when properly resourced to tackle fly-tipping.  

  • Dover council introduced CCTV into two hotspot locations, one rural and one urban, to prevent fly-tipping from reoccurring and capture those responsible for depositing the waste. The project started in September 2022 and fly-tipping incidents were monitored for 3 months before and after intervention. In both locations, there was a significant decrease in fly-tipping, 50% in the rural hotspot and 33% in the urban hotspot. 
  • Newham Council redesigned the ‘Timed Waste Collections' signage so that residents are aware of their responsibilities and actively engaged with residents by door knocking and delivering a timed collection’ letter. The project took place between 18th -21st July 2022 and results were monitored 6 months before and 6 months after installation. The results show that community engagement had a positive result and the area where the letter was distributed shows a 46% decrease in fly tipping
  • Gosport Borough Council introduced a community skip scheme, where skips were left at popular locations on certain days, free for the public to dispose of their waste at. The scheme cut fly tipping in the area by a third


Elliot Gregory, Public Affairs and Campaigns Advisor  

Mobile: 07766252833 | Phone: 020 7664 3059   
Email: [email protected]