New powers issued for councils to fine fly-tippers – but have only been used four times
NEW powers given to councils to slap fly-tippers with on-the-spot fines have been used by just one of eight south Hampshire councils so far.
According to Freedom of Information (FOI) data released to the Press Association, Gosport Borough Council has issued four fines for fly-tipping since the powers came into effect in May 2016 but other authorities have not followed suit.
A borough council spokesman said the authority gave four fixed penalty notices (FPN) of £200 for depositing waste, but as they all were paid within 10 days, they were lowered to £120.
The penalties were issued for a dumped mattress in Alliance Close, domestic waste left in black sacks in Sheffield Court and in Mumby Road, and topsoil dumped near a waste recycling site in Grange Road.
Fly-tipping is an ever-growing, and costly, problem for councils - with millions of pounds spent annually on clean-up costs and enforcement action.
Government equipped councils with greater powers to deter fly-tipping in May, by allowing them to issue fines of between £150 and £400.
According to the FOI figures, no fines have been given by Southampton City Council, East Hampshire District Council, Winchester City Council, Test Valley Borough Council, Fareham Borough Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and New Forest District Council.
The lack of fining is nationwide – 184 of the 302 councils who responded to the FOI request have yet to issue a FPN to fly-tippers, with many not even implementing the new rules.
But Rob Lane, Streetscene manager for New Forest District Council, said the authority has yet to issue an FPN because they can only be used when fly-tippers are caught in the act.
Mr Lane added: “Whenever and wherever we can, we actively investigate fly-tipping incidents and work with the police to bring prosecutions.”
A spokesman for East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) said that although fly-tipping has been on the increase in the area, no prosecutions have been brought as a result of the new powers.
The spokesman added: “This is because fly-tips can be difficult to trace unless they contain distinguishing material or the perpetrators are seen in the act.”
A spokesman for Southampton City Council said the authority takes fly-tipping ‘very seriously’, and that in cases where there is sufficient evidence to secure a prosecution, ‘appropriate action’ will be taken against the perpetrators.
They added: “This may include the issue of a FPN as an alternative to prosecution, but each case is judged on its merits.”
A spokesman for Fareham Borough Council said the authority is in the process of delegating powers to officers to issue FPNs under the new legislation.
They added that officers have already used their existing powers to issue four FPNs since last May for small fly-tipping offences where evidence was found.
Councillor Graham Stallard, environmental portfolio holder for Test Valley Borough Council, said the authority is currently considering adopting the new legislation.
He added: “Unfortunately, Test Valley is often targeted due to its rural landscape and proximity to Southampton.”
Since receiving their new powers, councils across the UK have issued hundreds of fines totalling more than £430,000 for fly-tipping.
Fly-tipping can be reported at www.gov.uk/report-flytipping.