Fly-tippers face £400 on-the-spot fines as councils gain new powers
Fly-tippers risk being slapped with £400 on-the-spot fines from today as councils gain new powers to tackle the scourge that costs taxpayers millions.
Those caught dumping small items such as old mattresses, televisions and furniture face being issued with a parking ticket-style fixed penalty notice (FPN), as part of an overhaul in how local authorities combat the antisocial behaviour.
Councils across England and Wales currently spend nearly £20 million carrying out over half a million enforcements each year, with action against offenders often involving expensive court proceedings.
It is hoped the new powers will bridge the gap between smaller on-the-spot fines handed out to litterers and criminal proceedings against large-scale illegal dumping.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the powers to hand out stiff fines without having to take perpetrators to court will help councils under pressure to cut costs.
LGA environment spokesman Councillor Martin Tett welcomed the change in the law, but called for changes in the way more serious fly-tipping offences are prosecuted.
"The Government has responded to our call for councils to be able to apply Fixed Penalty Notices for small scale fly-tipping - and this is a big step in the right direction.
"Councils also need a faster and more effective legal system which means fly-tippers are given hard-hitting fines for more serious offences.
"Local authorities should also be able to recoup all prosecution costs, rather than be left out of pocket."
There are nearly 900,000 fly-tipping incidents a year in England alone, costing nearly £50 million to clear up, according to the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales.
The number of cases rose by 6% between 2014/15 and 2013/14, while the cost of clearing up increased by 11%.
Environment Minister Rory Stewart said: "It's beyond me that anyone feels it's acceptable to simply dump their waste by the road - whether in our cities or our countryside. The new fixed penalty notices will provide local authorities with another tool to crack down on the selfish individuals who blight our neighbourhoods and ruin our beautiful landscape.
"The fines will also act as a deterrent and we will continue to work with local authorities to tackle the root cause of the crime and change the mentality of the few who commit it."