Landowners: Don't be left in a mess over fly-tipping

JCP Solicitors’ specialist Rural Practice and Property Litigation teams can help with a wide range of legal services, whether you need legal assistance with succession planning, an agricultural business, or you need expert advice on land use and environmental issues. In this column, Rhys Evans, Director and Head of Rural Practice, gives advice to landlords on fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping, the illegal dumping of waste on land or water not only spoils our enjoyment of our towns and countryside, but can also affect the environment, harming wildlife and potentially our own health. Repeated instances can also affect property prices and damage tourism.

Every householder is under a duty of care to ensure that their household rubbish is given to an authorised waste carrier. It is an offence if you fail to take all reasonable measures to meet your duty of care. Unfortunately, illegal fly tipping still happens far too often. In 2022/2023, there were over 39,800 recorded incidents of illegal fly-tipping in Wales alone, and these figures do not include fly-tipping on private land or incidents that were not reported.

Unfortunately, it is the landowner’s responsibility to pay for the removal and disposal of fly-tipped waste and therefore, if you find waste on your land there are a number of steps you should take:

Report it immediately to your local authority or through the Fly-tipping Action Wales website. Record details of the waste deposited, including taking photographs of the waste, noting down the extent of it and what it appears to be and when you found it.

Be careful as some fly-tipped waste can be dangerous/ hazardous. Try not to touch anything and be cautious of any dangerous materials. However, if identifying documents are easily visible, this may help the local authorities with any enforcement actions.

Check if you have any relevant insurance for the cost of its removal and appropriate legal disposal.

Your local authority may want to investigate the incident before you remove the waste from your land. Therefore, check that they have all the evidence they need before you do so.

You must see proof from anyone who disposes of the waste that they are registered with Natural Resources Wales to carry and/or accept waste. You can also check online.

Ensure that you take note of the name of the person or business collecting the waste, their vehicle type and registration, the date they removed it and where it is going. You are at risk of a £300 fixed penalty notice if you fail to meet your duty of care.

If you have evidence of the person who undertook the tipping, you may be able to consider a private prosecution to recover the cost of removal and legal costs.

Prevention is very often better than cure. Therefore, landowners should restrict access to their land by installing gates or other physical barriers, such as boulders and tree trunks having regard to the surroundings and environment and being mindful of any private and/or public rights of way.

Consider installing lighting, CCTV and signage to deter and to help with identification of offenders. Covert cameras which are affordable and can be obtained from various retailers have been used in successful prosecutions by local authorities.

For advice and guidance, contact Rhys Evans, Director and Head of Rural Practice, on 01437 764723 or email rhys.evans@jcpsolicitors.co.uk

This content does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only.