The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'

Fly Tipping Laws

Illegal dumping or abandoning waste litter is an offence penalized with imprisonment and fines by district councils.

FLY TIPPING RULES UK: These authorities are responsible for keeping relevant land and water clear and safe for public access.

This means that fly tipping laws also apply to the highways, beaches, and inland waterways around the United Kingdom.

What is Fly Tipping?

Fly tipping in the United Kingdom is defined as the illegal discarding or deposit of waste materials and rubbish products on land or water contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Section 33).

Fly tippers may be prosecuted for illegally dumping any garbage but typical items that are fly tipped include discarded shopping trolleys, unwanted furniture, rubber tyres, black bin liner bags, hazardous liquid and industrial waste, and construction materials.

The term 'fly tipping' is understood to have originated from an English expression of doing a deed 'on the fly'. It refers to rushing to achieve something without thinking it through sufficiently - on the move or in a hurry - to reduce the likelihood of getting caught.

What is the Maximum Fine for Fly-tipping?

The Environment Agency and local authorities are empowered to deal with fly-tipping offences in the United Kingdom. If you get caught illegally dumping garbage on land or water, the maximum penalties and fines for fly-tipping depend on the legal system used to deal with your prosecution.

You could face a fine up to £50,000 and a prison sentence of 12 months for a summary conviction. Conversely, maximum fines are unlimited with prison terms up to five years if you get convicted in a Crown Court.

Duty of Councils and Authorities

The main councils with litter clearance authorities and a specific duty to keep land clear include;

There are some authorities with responsibilities for litter problems on all, or certain areas, of their own land, such as;

Relevant Land Definitions

Council litter authorities must keep 'relevant' land clear and safe for public access according to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) if the land or water (excluding sewers) is;

Clearing Highways

Ensuring highways are clean and free of litter or refuse falls on the area councils and according to the Code of Practice on litter and refuse.

Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Code of Practice on litter and refuse means litter authorities must 'have regard to' the regulations on littering and refuse removal from land and waterways. Simply put, unless there are justifiable reasons why not, they must follow all littering rules outlined and follow details that would be considered to be practicable on different types of land by a court of law.

Littering Laws

Note: The United Kingdom fly tipping laws consider it a criminal offence to knowingly drop litter on any land if it is accessible to the public. This also includes private land.

A magistrates' court can issue a fine up to 2,500 or a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for the offenders. Individuals can then be prosecuted if they do not pay the fixed penalty notice.

Fixed Penalty Notices

As a rule, fixed penalty notices are given to people who;

Public Space Protection Orders

A public space protection order (PSPO) is used mostly by a Council when they are dealing with problems in public spaces (e.g. the control of dogs). Typically, council PSPO offences include dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs have fouled a public area and owners who allow their animals to enter places where they are forbidden, such as some playgrounds and park areas.

Litter Abatement Orders

As a rule, keeping publicly-accessible land clean and clear refuse is the responsibility of litter authorities. They can be taken to court for failing to do so and in some cases the authorities will be ordered to pay the costs of the complainant. The authority will avoid court action if they clear the land within five days of the complaint notification.

The court may also issue a Litter Abatement Order (LAO) which means the litter authority must clear the trash within a specified time frame. Noncompliance with land abatement orders is a criminal offence and could result in a fine up to £2,500 with additional fines of up to £125 per day if the offence continues after the conviction.

Street Litter Control Notices

A Street Litter Control Notice (SLCN) gives the council power to force businesses to clear rubbish surrounding their premises. Even though most councils cannot issue new Street Litter Control Notices any longer, they are required to keep a public register of any existing notices while they are in force. The public are allowed to inspect the register, without charge, and they can copy the register - there may be a charge for this service.

Fly-tipped Waste Clearance

Illegally dumping waste on public land is sometimes referred to as small scale fly-tipping. The responsibility for investigating and clearing fly-tipped waste is down to the local council. They can serve notice requiring occupiers or landowners to have fly-tipped waste removed from their land.

Environment Agency

Large scale fly-tipping incidents which involve more than a lorry load of waste, hazardous waste or fly-tipping by organised gangs is investigated and dealt with by the Environment Agency. Private land owners are responsible for any enforced clearing of fly-tipped waste from their private land. Offenders may be prosecuted for;

Road Cleaning and Clearing

Any time councils clean or clear roads of waste products, they must use signs and barriers to warn approaching traffic and they must follow instructions about when cleaning can be done according to the highways authorities. Councils must also apply to the highway authority for a traffic regulation order any time they need to restrict normal traffic flow.

Refuse Removal from Blocked Roads

Offenders can be fined up to £1,000, if convicted, for leaving anything on the road that could interrupt its use. The council (or the Highways Agency on trunk roads) should remove any road blockage immediately if it is a danger to road users. A notice to remove it within a set time frame should be issued to the owner of the object if it is not causing an immediate danger.

Councils can remove the object and apply to the magistrates’ court for a disposal order or apply to a magistrates’ court for a removal and disposal order if the owner does not remove the object.

Councils Keeping Land Clear

There are other ways that councils use their powers to maintain their land clearing responsibilities. They have the authority to remove abandoned vehicles, confiscate abandoned shopping trolleys, and control public leafleting.

Fly-tipping Legislation; UK Rules Updated 2017