Environment Agency launches project to identify extent of flytipping on private land

Illegally dumped waste found to be a problem for 94% of landowners

The Environment Agency has launched a pilot with eight major UK landowners to identify the real extent of fly-tipping on private land. This follows initial research which has revealed that 94% of private landowners suffer from illegal dumping of waste.

Half of local landowners questioned through the Defra-funded Landowner Partnership Project* say that illegally dumped waste has become a significant concern – with some experiencing more than one hundred separate incidents in a year. With clearance costs averaging £809 per removal, the figures underline a significant problem which the Environment Agency is determined to get to grips with.

Although anecdotal evidence suggests that fly-tipping on private land is widespread, the true scale of the problem is still not known, making identifying potential solutions a challenge. 83% of landowners do not formally record incidents, often because they see no direct incentive for doing so. Under current legislation, landowners must cover the cost of removing fly-tipped waste in most instances**.

The Environment Agency project has been developed to help identify an effective system for accurately recording fly-tipping so that measures for tackling the problem can ultimately be identified. The second phase of the Landowner Partnership Project will support a pilot group of landowners with a system to record incidents on their land by size, type and location.

Gerald Lee, Project Manager for the Environment Agency’s Landowner Partnership, explains: "Our ’Recognise, Record, Reduce’ campaign is being launched in partnership with private landowners, from farmers and park managers through to utility companies. Its purpose is to record fly-tipping incidents uniformly through a central online system for an extended period of time. We need this level of understanding to be able to provide tools and guidance for tackling a problem that we know anecdotally is a big issue for Britain’s landowners."

The pilot is now underway in the Midlands and the North West, involving the National Trust, National Farmers Union, United Utilities, British Waterways, Countryside Alliance, Country Landowners Association, Network Rail and the Highways Agency. These organisations will record fly-tipping on their land until April 2010 using the Flycapture system, a method already used to good effect by all of Britain’s local authorities and the Environment Agency for recording fly-tipping on public land. If the pilot proves viable, the information provided will help make a case for providing landowners with their own simple system for accurately reporting future incidents.

Half of material illegally dumped on private land is household waste, followed by construction waste and used car tyres. Harmful materials such as asbestos, chemical drugs and clinical waste present a particular problem. Clean up can be expensive and time-consuming for landowners and The Environment Agency hopes that better recording and intelligence on incidents will present the first step towards identifying new measures to support landowners in managing and reducing fly-tipping occurrences.

Gerald Lee continues: "The project ultimately aims to reduce the impact of fly-tipping on private landowners – but to do this, we need to be able to identify the scale of the problem for different landowners and advise on strategies which will work in each environment. There is no ’one size fits all’ solution and local authorities, waste companies and trade bodies all have a role to play in informing this crucial campaign."

For more information about the Environment Agency’s Recognise, Record, Reduce pilot visit www.record2reduce.com


*The Environment Agency and Encams/Keep Britain Tidy’ Landowner Partnership research study talked to 520 landowners and 206 local authorities. Research was concluded in February 2009.

**The Environment Agency will remove illegally dumped waste on public or private land where there is a high risk to environmental or human health.