Fly-tipping is on the rise in many areas across the region, with taxpayers footing a multi-million pound bill to clear up illegally dumped waste, new figures show.
Incidents of rubbish dumped illegally and the costs of dealing with it have risen for the second year running, responses from more than 200 local authorities to a Freedom of Information request from the Press Association suggest.
In Peterborough there were 5,075 incidents of fly-tipping reported in 2014/15 and although this was a significant drop on the 2013/14 figure of 7,015 it was still an increase on the the 2012/13 figure of 4,236.
The costs of clearing up were not made available by Peterborough City Council but the survey showed that there were 10 prosecutions last year compared with none the year before and five in 2012/13.
The number of fly-tipping incidents rose slightly in 2014/2015 to 529,462 cases across 201 councils who gave information for the past three financial years, up from 527,777 the previous year - and with both years significantly higher than in 2012/2013.
The figures suggest the upward trend in fly-tipping across England, seen in official statistics from the Environment Department (Defra) last year with a 20% increase in incidents in 2013/14, could be continuing after years of the problem being in decline.
And while many councils said they were unable to supply figures for the price of cleaning up after fly-tippers as it was included in overall street cleaning budgets or contracts, figures from 144 local authorities showed costs had also risen in the past year.
Nationally, across the 144 councils that provided data for the past three years, including those using Defra estimates for costs per incident, it cost more than £16.2 million in 2014/2015, up from just under £16 million the previous year and £13.6 million in 2012/2013. Figures from 13 councils which supplied data for recent calendar years also suggest the number of incidents, which can range from single black bags of rubbish to old furniture or even lorry-loads of waste, and the cost of clearing them up is on the increase.
Among those councils the number of incidents reported rose from 28,631 in 2013 to 33,886 last year, and the costs rose from £522,000 to £524,000 among the six local authorities who supplied figures for both years.
Part of the rise is thought to be down to people moving house more often, with figures showing 2.6 million households had recently moved in 2013/2014, or 11% of all households, the highest proportion since 2007/2008, and the low cost of household goods.
The number of prosecutions for fly-tipping also rose last year, up from 982 in 2013/2014 to 1,216 in 2014/2015, the information from the councils shows.
Councils are using a number of measures to tackle the problem, including investigating rubbish for evidence of where it came, using CCTV and hidden cameras, running patrols with police and education campaigns to warn residents they are responsible for where their waste ends up.Some are also providing one-off skips for dumping domestic items in problem areas or free bulky waste collections for households.
And around two-fifths of councils recorded a reduction in fly-tipping in the last year despite the overall rise, the figures show.
But the Local Government Association also wants extra powers for councils to be able to issue on-the-spot fines known as fixed penalty notices for some fly-tipping cases, such as dumping pieces of broken furniture, old televisions and mattresses. This would save councils the expense and time of having to go to court in some cases, according to the LGA, which is also calling for local authorities to be awarded full costs in successful prosecutions.
Peter Box, the Local Government Association’s environment spokesman, said local authorities were spending tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money a year on fly-tipping, which could be better spent on services such as protecting vulnerable children and keeping libraries open. He said councils could only take fly-tippers to court, when a fine would sometimes be the more appropriate response.
“All the figures show that the huge amount of effort local authorities put into preventing and tackling fly-tipping is having a real impact,” he said. “But new powers would ensure councils can go even further in addressing what is often not just an eyesore, but also a serious public health risk, creating pollution and attracting vermin.”
A Defra spokesman said: “Fly-tipping blights communities and poses a risk to human health which is why tackling this issue is a priority for government.
“We want everyone to enjoy a cleaner, healthier country and will build on our recent successes by introducing fixed penalty notices for small scale fly-tipping.
“This will provide local authorities with another way of clamping down on those who illegally dump waste.
“Last year’s increase in reported fly-tipping incidents should be seen in the context of better technology, including local authority apps, which allow members of the public to easily report this crime so authorities can take action.”
Here are the figures for the number of fly-tipping incidents, costs and prosecutions reported to the Press Association in Freedom of Information requests for councils that responded in the Eastern region.
The list includes all councils that responded to the Freedom of Information request with data for the past three years. It also includes councils that responded in part with information based on calendar years rather than financial years (these are listed separately at the foot of the table). Councils that do not appear on the list did not respond, responded but did not supply information for all three years, sent information that could not be included or were not approached.
The figures show, from left to right: the name of the council; the number of incidents in 2012/13, 2013/14, and 2014/15; the costs in 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15; and the prosecutions in 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.
- Boston BC 1,401 932 977 12,216.00 7,064.00 8,529.00 0 0 0
- East Cambridgeshire DC 259 228 207 N/A N/A N/A 0 0 0
- Huntingdonshire DC* 352 367 499 17,709.00 21,859.00 27,308.00 0 1 6
- Kings Lynn and West Norfolk BC 1,626 2,016 2,252 52,387.00 64,283.00 70,082.00 0 0 0
- Mid Suffolk DC* 215 292 330 9,335.00 13,041.00 15,117.00 1 0 5
- North East Lincolnshire 1,173 2,160 1,708 N/A N/A N/A 6 1 1
- North Kesteven DC 879 1,056 962 54,595.00 66,060.00 52,841.00 2 4 16
- North Norfolk DC 337 343 351 22,498.00 26,154.00 26,623.00 7 1 1
- Northamptonshire CC 3 4 3 134,500.00 146,100.00 164,800.00 0 0 0
- Peterborough City 4,236 7,015 5,075 N/A N/A N/A 5 0 10
- Rutland CC 163 175 285 10,179.00 9,974.00 13,784.00 0 0 0
- South Cambridgeshire DC 536 561 622 1,676.00 5,488.00 1,242.00
- South Holland DC* 524 782 578 34,339.00 67,824.00 47,873.00 0 0 1
- South Kevesten DC 386 807 1,061 N/A N/A N/A 1 0 0
- South Norfolk 678 684 793 N/A N/A N/A 0 0 0
- West Lindsey DC 768 674 1,042 40,627.20 35,654.60 55,125.75 0 4 1
Below are the figures for Fenland District Council which provided data for incidents and costs in calendar years, but data for prosecutions in financial years.
The figures show, from left to right: the name of the council; the number of incidents in 2012, 2013 and 2014; the costs in 2012, 2013 and 2014; and the prosecutions in 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.
- Fenland DC 859 808 969 75,000.00 75,000.00 75,000.00 0 0 0
The cost totals only include councils that supplied figures for all three of the last three financial or calendar years.
Councils marked with an asterisk denotes those that specified their cost figures came from Defra “Flycapture” estimates.
Many councils said their costs were included in wider contracts or budgets, in which case the figures have been marked as N/A
The figures for prosecutions do not include waste-related fixed penalty notices or cautions, for which many councils also supplied figures.
Where councils specified their prosecution figures included FPNs and cautions those figures were excluded from the data.
South Cambridgeshire specified its costs only related to large fly-tips as smaller incidents were dealt with as part of waste contract.
Northamptonshire CC specified its costs were for disposing fly tips collected by the district & borough councils.