Increases in landfill tax do not necessarily mean that fly-tipping incidents will also rise. There is no data to suggest that countries with higher levels of landfill tax than the UK have a significant problem with fly-tipping. Nevertheless, the Government continue to monitor levels of fly-tipping and ways in which the effects can be mitigated. Defra has also allocated £2 million of the receipts from landfill tax in 2006-07 from the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste programme to help the Environment Agency tackle illegal waste activity in the business community.
In April 2004, the Flycapture database was set up to help local authorities and the Environment Agency improve information on the scale of fly-tipping and to help focus resources and identify trends in this growing environmental crime. Flycapture is enabling central and local government to demonstrate the true nature, extent and scale of fly-tipping. The data will be used to develop more effective, evidence based policies and strategies.
Defra has also funded a research report by the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science into the causes and incentives of fly-tipping. The report concludes that there are a number of separate causes of fly-tipping.
Although the research recognises that one of these causes may be the cost of legitimate waste disposal, the landfill tax is an important instrument in reducing our reliance on landfill and moving to more sustainable waste management options. Diverting biodegradable waste from landfill will also cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions and signals the Government’s serious commitment to tackle climate change on all fronts. The actual increases, together with the knowledge of the future rate of tax, is sending a strong signal. This will change behaviour, while allowing business time to adjust and make the necessary investment in alternative waste treatment routes.
Flycapture, the national database of fly-tipping incidents, was set up in 2004 by Defra, the Environment Agency and the Local Government Association, to record fly-tipping incidents dealt with by the Environment Agency and local authorities. Data on fly-tipping levels are therefore only available from April 2004 onwards.
Flycapture data shows that in England, 926,534 incidents were reported in the period April 2004 to March 2005. There were 1,034,518 incidents reported from April 2005 to March 2006.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 introduced new measures which will help local authorities and the Environment Agency to combat fly-tipping. The 2005 act also introduced increased penalties for the offence.
Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government have also funded the Environment Agency to develop Flycapture Enforcement, a local authority capacity building training package aimed at improving skills in enforcement and helping to improve efforts in prosecuting fly-tippers.