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Fly tipping (dumped rubbish)

The law

In the UK waste disposal comes under legislation that imposes a duty to ensure that waste is disposed of properly. Only holders of a Waste Carriers' Licence can transport, deposit or dispose of waste. This must be done at authorised sites that hold a Waste Management Licence.

Anyone fly tipping waste is committing a serious offence. Fines in magistrates' courts are up to £50,000 and may include up to 6 months' imprisonment.

If the case goes to Crown Court fines are unlimited, and may include up to 2 years' imprisonment or up to 5 years if hazardous waste is dumped. Where fly-tipping involves the use of a vehicle, the driver can be prosecuted, as can the person who owns the vehicle.

Anyone producing waste, including householders, has a duty of care to ensure it is disposed of without endangering health or harming the environment. This applies to any type of waste that is unsuitable for disposal in a wheeled bin and unable to be taken as part of household waste collections.

The legislation states that householders must 'take all reasonable steps to ensure that waste is only taken from their homes by operators who are authorised to do so'.

This means that the legal responsibility is placed on the householder to ensure that a trader is registered with the Environment Agency as a waste carrier. Householders are urged to take extra care when employing traders such as builders or private rubbish clearing operators and should ask to see their waste carrier’s licence.

A householder could be faced with fine of £5,000 for failing in their duty of care by passing on their rubbish to illegal traders or waste operators. Their rubbish could end up fly tipped elsewhere.

Organisations such as Check a Trade and Buy with Confidence will assist in ensuring that traders are operating legally.