The latest government measure to tackle waste crime has come into force this week, with householders whose waste ends up fly-tipped facing a possible £400 fine.
The new penalty comes as part of a targeted campaign to reduce the amount of waste that is dumped illegally and focuses on the household waste duty of care, which requires householders to take responsibility for their waste and ensure it is disposed of correctly.
A record number of fines were handed out by the Environment Agency (EA) for environmental offences in 2017/18, rising from £8 million to £25.5 million, evidence of the government’s concerted crackdown on waste crime. While the EA received additional powers in April 2018 to force problem operators to clear their waste, councils will now have further powers of their own to impose fines on householders who ignore their waste duty of care.
From Monday (7 January), any householder who fails to find a licensed carrier for their waste, and whose waste therefore ends up being fly-tipped or otherwise illegally disposed of, could face a fine of up to £400.
This measure was first proposed in a government consultation at the start of 2018; 88 per cent of respondents said they believed a new fixed penalty notice (FPN) would help to tackle fly-tipping. A majority also felt that the level of penalty was fair, and 95 per cent agreed that local authorities should be required to communicate how frequently they use the penalties.
The government has issued guidance for local authorities on how and when the FPNs should be used in a ‘proportionate’ manner, addressing concerns that councils might be over-zealous in their use of fines. It is stressed that ‘in no circumstances should enforcement be used as a means to generate income.’
The guidance also recognises the need for a cross-boundary approach by local authorities, given that waste can easily cross borders and end up dumped in a different county – or even a different country within the UK. While the FPN will only apply in England, the issue of fly-tipping across national borders is the focus of the ‘Drive out waste crime’ initiative, led by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).
It is hoped that the fine will raise awareness of the household waste duty of care and encourage individuals to find properly licensed disposal routes for their waste. On a larger scale, the recently published Resources and Waste Strategy sets out further efforts by the government to address serious and organised criminal activity in the waste industry – for instance, via the electronic tracking of waste movements, which could enable authorities to see exactly where waste is being taken, even across borders. In addition, the government will be creating a Joint Unit for Waste Crime.
By Kate Dickinson | 8 January 2019 |