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Fly-tipping allegations

Fly-tipping refers to the illegal dumping or disposal of waste in unauthorised or inappropriate locations, such as public spaces, private land, roadsides, or waterways. It involves the abandonment of waste materials without the proper authorisation or adherence to waste management regulations. Industries that frequently face prosecution for fly-tipping vary, but certain sectors are more commonly associated with illegal dumping due to the nature of their operations and waste production processes. 

If you require assistance, please contact our specialist lawyers on 0161 696 6250. Alternatively, please complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly to discuss your case.


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Sectors commonly associated with fly-tipping

Construction and demolition

Construction sites generate substantial amounts of waste, including rubble, concrete, and packaging materials. Failure to dispose of construction waste properly can lead to fly-tipping incidents, particularly when contractors or subcontractors opt for illegal dumping to cut costs or save time.

Waste management and recycling

Waste dumped in unauthorised areas rather than processing it through legitimate channels.

Landscaping and garden services

Businesses involved in landscaping, gardening, and tree surgery often produce green waste, such as grass clippings, branches, and leaves. Improper disposal of green waste, either through illegal dumping or burning, can result in fly-tipping prosecutions.

Retail and hospitality

Retail establishments, restaurants, and hospitality businesses generate various types of waste, including packaging, food waste, and general refuse. In some cases, businesses may resort to fly-tipping to avoid waste disposal fees or when faced with inadequate waste management infrastructure.

Transport and logistics

Fly-tipping incidents can also involve transportation and logistics companies that fail to secure their loads properly during transit. Loose items or unsecured waste materials can inadvertently fall from vehicles, resulting in littering or illegal dumping along roadsides and highways.

Fly-tipping prosecutions typically target both individuals and businesses involved in the illegal disposal of waste. Identifying the responsible party can be complex, as it may involve tracing the waste back to its source. Individuals caught dumping waste can be prosecuted, but the responsibility can also extend to businesses that fail to properly manage their waste or hire unlicensed waste carriers. Local authorities and the environment agency enforce regulations against fly-tipping. Surveillance cameras, tip-offs from the public, and intelligence gathering are used as part of the process.

What are the penalties for fly-tipping?

Fixed penalty notice can be issued if they are in line with a council’s enforcement it cannot be used for:

  • Operators in the waste management industry
  • Repeat offenders
  • Those responsible for large-scale fly-tipping or the fly-tipping of hazardous waste

These types of incidents will continue to be enforced by local authorities using existing prosecution powers.

You may also be served with an enforcement notice requiring the occupier of the land to remove the fly-tipped waste and remediate the land.

Depending on the circumstances the agencies may seek to prosecute under:  Environmental Protection Act 1990 section 33, Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, regulations 12 and 38 Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, schedule 21 – water discharge activities.

Penalties vary depending the specific circumstances of the offences and depending on whether an organisation or an individual is the subject of a prosecution.

Offences can be tried in either the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court. The sentencing powers in the crown court are more severe meaning that more serious offences are dealt with in the Crown Court.

Organisations can be fined an unlimited amount whereas individuals can face a broad range of penalties ranging from a conditional discharge to up to 5 years imprisonment.

Accidental fly-tipping

Even if circumstances do not amount to a defence, it is important to obtain advice from a solicitor as soon as any notification of charge is received so that assistance can at least be provided to mitigate against any penalty. For example, instances of illegal dumping can sometimes occur accidentally or as a result of negligence rather than deliberate misconduct. Accidental fly-tipping may occur due to factors such as lack of awareness. Businesses or individuals may be unaware of their legal obligations regarding waste disposal or may misunderstand the proper procedures for handling specific types of waste. They may have poor waste management practices. Inadequate waste management systems or infrastructure within businesses can contribute to accidental fly-tipping incidents, particularly when disposal options are limited or inaccessible. Mistakes or oversights by employees or contractors, such as loading waste into the wrong vehicle or inadvertently spilling materials during transportation, can lead to unintended instances of fly-tipping. Other factors include, extreme weather events or natural disasters can sometimes cause unintended waste dispersal, leading to littering or illegal dumping in affected areas.

How can Stephensons help?

When facing fly-tipping allegations, seeking legal advice is crucial for individuals and businesses. Environmental law is complex, we can help you understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the prosecution process. We will review the evidence and provide a defence, mitigating potential penalties.

We can also assist businesses in implementing robust waste management practices to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

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