Fly-tipping offences

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Fly-tipping offences
  • What is fly-tipping?
  • Regulators
  • Fly-tipping statistics
  • England
  • Wales
  • Fly-tipping offences
  • Unlawful deposit of waste
  • Offence
  • Penalties
  • More...

Fly-tipping offences

What is fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is the illegal deposit of waste. It can cause pollution, harm to human health and can affect the amenity of the area. It undermines the system of environmental permitting and registration of waste carriers.

Fly-tipped waste can be inert or hazardous, liquid or solid and can vary in scale from a single bin bag to large quantities of waste dumped from vans or trucks. It is distinct from littering which involves smaller items of waste often associated with smoking, eating and drinking.

The causes of fly-tipping are varied, however the main reasons for organised illegal waste operations involve financial gain or financial saving, eg:

  1. avoiding landfill tax

  2. avoiding producer responsibility costs

  3. increased costs of waste removal

  4. perceived weaknesses with local waste collection and disposal services and a low perceived risk of enforcement


Local authorities (LAs), the Environment Agency (EA) in England and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in Wales have powers and responsibilities in relation to fly-tipping.

The EA/NRW investigate major fly-tipping incidents involving:

  1. more than a lorryload of waste

  2. any amount involving hazardous waste, and

  3. fly-tipping by organised gangs

LAs are responsible for investigating and clearing up smaller scale fly-tipping on public land and may investigate incidents on private land. However, landowners are responsible for clearing fly-tipped waste on private land.

In certain circumstances, LAs and the EA/NRW have powers to require occupiers

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