Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of any waste in any location such as roadsides, lay-bys or private land. The nature and quantity of waste that is fly-tipped varies significantly, ranging from individual rubbish bags, garden waste and tyres to large domestic items such as mattresses and fridges. Waste from construction, demolition and excavation activities can also often be fly-tipped by rogue traders.

Fly-tipping is a problem because:

  • It is estimated to cost £100-£150 million every year to investigate and clear up. The cost falls on taxpayers and private landowners
  • Fly-tipping poses a threat to humans and wildlife, damages the environment, and spoils enjoyment of towns and the countryside
  • Fly-tipping undermines legitimate waste businesses where illegal operators undercut those operating within the law. At the same time, the reputation of legal operators is undermined by rogue traders

As with other things that affect local environment quality, areas subject to repeated fly-tipping may suffer declining property prices and local businesses may suffer as people stay away.

Anyone convicted of fly-tipping offences can:

  • receive substantial fines (up to £50,000 in Magistrates' court or unlimited if the case goes to the Crown Court)
  • receive community punishment orders or prison sentences of up to five years
  • be made to pay the costs of enforcement, investigation and clean-up
  • be made to give up any vehicles used to carry out fly-tipping.

UK waste comes under controls that impose a duty to ensure that waste is disposed of properly. Only holders of an Environmental Permit can recover, transport, deposit or dispose of waste. Waste can only be deposited at officially authorised sites. Anyone fly-tipping waste is committing a serious offence.

In addition any fly-tipped waste becomes the responsibility of the landowner and they have a legal duty of care to ensure that the waste is disposed of or recycled at an authorised facility. If it is arranged for the waste to be removed, it must be ensured that the person who removes the fly-tipped waste is a registered waste carrier.

Data Collection

A Flycapture database was set up in 2004 by Defra, the Environment Agency and the Local Government Association. The aim of the database is to build the evidence base for fly-tipping in order to inform future policy making and to provide local authorities with a management tool which enables a problem solving approach to be taken to fly-tipping. It records the number of fly-tipping incidents dealt with by the Environment Agency and local authorities, along with details of enforcement action taken. When local authorities or the Environment Agency encounter an incident of fly-tipping, they record the details on this web based system. This includes the location of the incident, what was tipped, the size of the tip and any actions taken.

There is a national fly-tipping protocol between local authorities and the Environment Agency which sets out the responsibilities of both. Local authorities deal with small scale fly-tips while the Environment Agency deal with more serious fly tipping incidents which often have serious criminal involvement.

2009-2010 data

Initial headline statistics from Flycapture indicate:

Nearly 947,000 fly-tipping incidents were dealt with by local authorities in England, an 18.7% decrease from 08-09*.

63% of fly-tips involved household waste 

2.3% increase in enforcement actions by local authorities.

* Careful interpretation of the data is required. Changes in the reporting practices of individual authorities can have a significant impact on the overall figures.

Clearing illegally dumped waste from privately owned land is particularly difficult. Neither the local authority nor the Environment Agency is under any legal obligation to remove the waste. Private landowners are encourages, through the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group to record incidents of Fly-tipping in the same format as that used for Fly Capture

Local Environmental Quality Survey of England

Defra commissioned ENCAMS (now Keep Britain Tidy), to undertake an independent survey of local environmental issues, such as litter and graffiti, in every district council area in England between April 2006 and March 2008.

The aim of this work was to report on the cleanliness of each council area - on the street, in parks, town centres and other places that the public visit for work and recreation. It will give councils detailed information on the nature and scale of any problems, helping them to target resources effectively and improve standards.

The Scottish Fly Tipping Forum

The Scottish Fly-tipping Forum was established with all of the key stakeholders who are affected by fly-tipping and the organisations responsible for the investigation and disposal of many fly-tipping incidents.


Fly-tipping Action Wales is a partnership initiative sponsored by the Welsh Government and coordinated by Environment Agency Wales.


There are several pieces of legislation relating to fly-tipping. In England, Wales and Scotland, the main legislation is the Environmental Protection Act (EPA 1990 ) Sections 33, 34 and 59.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

In Northern Ireland, the main powers are held in the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 , Article 5 and the Pollution Control and Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 1978,Article 5. 7,8,10,11,12,13


Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Fly-tipping: National database - Fly Capture 2009-2010 data

Flycapture - Fly - Tipping Database run by the Environment Agency on behalf of Defra

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Fly-tipping: National database - Questions and Answers

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Local environmental quality: fly-tipping research. Fly-tipping: causes, incentives, solutions research

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Local environmental quality: fly-tipping

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Local environmental quality: fly-tipping research

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Local Environmental Quality. How tidy is your local area?

Environment Agency: Summary of Duties and Powers in Respect of tackling Illegal Waste Management and Fly-Tipping for the Agency and Local Authorities.

Environment Agency: National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group: Tackling Fly-tipping A guide for landowners and land managers

Fly-tipping Action Wales is a partnership initiative sponsored by the Welsh Government and coordinated by Environment Agency Wales.

Office of Public Sector Information: Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003

Office of Public Sector Information: Clean Neighbourhoods and Environmental Act 2005: Chapter 2 Deposit and Disposal of Waste: fly-tipping measures

Office of Public Sector Information: Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 33, Prohibition on unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc. of waste

Office of Public Sector Information: The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008 No. 314 Environmental Protection, England:

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency: Fly-tipping

Keep Britain Tidy Fly-Tipping Information

Keep Britain Tidy Fly- Tipping Knowledge Bank

Direct Gov - Local surveys on graffiti, fly posting and litter

Click Here...

Keep Scotland Beautiful - Dumb Dumpers

Scottish Government - Litter and fly-tipping as a Zero Waste issue