Countryside Alliance (CA) gathered the data after putting in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to local authorities across the UK, which revealed at least 656,000 incidents of unlawful rubbish dumping were recorded between April 2010 and March 2011 – a rate of one incident per minute.

However, these figures are considerably lower than 2007 levels when 2.5M incidents of fly-tipping were recorded, at a rate of one every 12 seconds.

However, the Alliance is arguing that local authorities have been forced to pay out £25M to clear rubbish left by fly-tippers, spending £66,000 a day clearing the waste, and resulting in a bill of more than £40M for the taxpayer.

A CA spokesperson told edieWaste it has been campaigning against fly-tipping for some time, but said while the number of incidents have gone down the figure is “still too high”.

While the CA research revealed that one in 50 cases led to a prosecution and just £692,000 was collected in fines in 2010 – 2011, in 2007 just one in 100 incidents led to prosecution and £100M was spent in clean-up costs.

Local authorities and the Environment Agency carried out 386,010 enforcements in response to fly-tipping incidents during the 12-month period at a cost of nearly £16M. However, while this resulted in just 11,792 prosecutions, compared to 24,460 in 2007 overall figures were down.

The Environment Agency (EA) told edieWaste that it directly dealt with 725 of the illegal dumping incidents during 2010-2011 and had 280 successful prosecutions. It added that enforcement and prosecution is harder for rural authorities harder to obtain which is why its success rate has remained low in these areas, with just three in every 1,000 incidents leading to prosecution.

Meanwhile, the CA is calling on the Government to take action to tackle the issue, and have warned that the environmental and financial impact of fly-tipping is damaging to watercourses, soil quality and local wildlife.

CA’s chief executive, Alice Barnard, said: “The Coalition Government promised to end this scourge when they published the Waste Review this summer. This is a promising start, however they need to work closer with cash-strapped local authorities to tackle this blight. By raising the landfill tax in the budget and with more cuts coming to council budgets, this problem is only going to get worse.

“Fly-tipping is a crime that perpetrators can get away with. We need a coordinated plan which ensures people who fly-tip are caught and punished and provides greater support to local authorities and landowners who bear the brunt of the cost of clearing up the mess.”

Carys Matthews

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