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Fly-tipping – ensuring all polluters pay

We all know that fly-tipping is an offence, but did you know you commit an offence if you pass waste to someone who isn’t licensed?

What is meant by ‘waste’?

This article is referring to household waste.  For example, this may mean excess rubbish that does not fit in your general collection bins.

How could I commit an offence of fly-tipping?

fly-tippingYou have a ‘duty of care’ to take all measures reasonable in the circumstances to ensure you only transfer waste to an ‘authorised’ person.  Please note that if a trades person working at your house produces waste, they are responsible for the removal and disposal.

Most offences of fly-tipping are committed by someone paid to take the waste away rather than the person who produced the waste.  This means that you commit an offence if the person you ask to take the waste away is not licensed to do so and then illegally disposes of it.

What is an authorised person?

This is usually the local authority collection service, a registered waste carrier or an operator of a registered site. You can check if a person is licensed on the Environment Agency Website.

What could happen to me?

The government is introducing a fixed penalty notice for breaches of the household duty of care in relation to fly-tipping.

fly-tippingCurrently, you could be offered a caution, warning or be prosecuted for failing to comply with your duty of care. The new penalty notice system provides an alternative to a prosecution.

The penalty will range from £150 to £400.  The minimum discounted penalty available will be £120. The penalty is set deliberately at a high rate as otherwise it may still be cheaper to use an illegal waste collector.  It is intended to act as a deterrent and is therefore set at a rate that is higher than the cost of legitimate disposal.

The guidance produced by the government for local councils states that householders should not be fined for minor breaches and consideration should be given as to whether it is proportionate and in the public interest to issue a notice to a person who is classed as vulnerable.

What if I do not pay the penalty?

If you chose not to pay the penalty you can be prosecuted for the offence through the courts. The typical fine imposed at court is likely to be significantly higher than the penalty notice.

When will the law be brought in?

The law to introduce the penalty is expected to be in force early this year.

How can we help?

If you are invited to attend an interview with any prosecuting agency, such as a local authority, you can have a solicitor present.  Dependent upon your means, that advice and assistance may be free of charge to you under the Legal Help scheme.

The advantages of such early legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

 You can find your nearest office here.

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