The Escalating Issue of Fly-Tipping

Our landscape is becoming tainted by the increase in fly-tipping – an escalating issue that puts farmers and private landowners under particular strain. Fly-tipping has the potential to bring about financial ruin, in particular to small farms or those not covered by environmental farm insurance.

In June 2017, a House of Commons briefing paper recognised the scale of the criminal activity surrounding the illegal disposal of household, industrial, commercial and other ‘controlled’ waste, by those without a Waste Management Licence. Materials dumped often include asbestos, solvents, oil, fridges, highly combustible materials and tyres, and the practice of fly-tipping is often carried out by organised criminal gangs.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

Penalties can be applied under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, giving the courts the right to impose a prison sentence of up to five years, but fly-tippers are often never caught.

The law makes it clear that responsibility for the ‘clean-up’ of fly-tipped waste, and the cost of such, is the landowner’s responsibility. Councils will not clear land for free, resulting in heavy expenses for the private landowners left to deal with the problem. Reimbursement only comes about if the guilty party is caught and prosecuted and, even then, exacting the full costs from the offenders can be difficult.

The Financial Costs of Fly-Tipping

The cost of removing fly-tipped waste is already believed to cost Britain’s private landowners £50m to £150m a year. Should the dumped waste contain pollutants that seep into the ground, the clean-up operation could go beyond the means of the individual landowner, potentially bringing about bankruptcy.

Any area of accessible land is at the mercy of these criminals choosing to dump illegal waste and those obliged to provide access, under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000, are particularly vulnerable.

High-risk sites are also those which are disused or home to vacant warehouses. Others are chosen because previously dumped waste has not been removed, or because factors such as graffiti and ill-repair make the site seem a justifiable target for fly-tippers.

Insurance Cover Against Fly-Tipping

Whilst this situation should spur all private landowners into securing sites with locks, physical barriers, CCTV and even security patrols, they would also be well-advised to examine their property insurance policy too. Owners should review their land insurance quotes and assess what protection it provides, if any, to mitigate the costs of dealing with fly-tipped waste.

If, as an environmental insurance broker, your client is a landowner, you should enquire about Environment Impairment Liability protection. It would pick up some of the cost of a pollutant clean-up that might involve the Environment Agency.

Land Based Underwriters are expert farm insurance underwriters. Please get in touch with us so we can help guide you through the cover available.