Where there is refuse or fly-tipping on public land, then the relevant local authority has a duty to clear it and bear the cost of removal. However, neither the local authority nor the Environment Agency are under any legal obligation to assist with the removal of illegally dumped waste from privately owned land.
Some authorities are ready to work with landowners to investigate and prosecute repeated incidents of fly-tipping and to tackle specific problems or issues. However, to place a duty on the authorities and the Environment Agency to remove waste from private land would create a fly-tippers' charter. This would encourage illegal dumping rather than tackle the problem. Moreover, such a duty would place significant additional burdens on local authorities and the Environment Agency.
For these reasons, we do not intend to bring forward proposals that would mean fly-tipped waste on private land is be treated in the same way as on public land.
Among recent measures that have been introduced, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 gave courts the power to make an order against anyone convicted of the main offence of illegal waste disposal to pay for costs incurred by a landowner in removing waste that has been illegally deposited.
DEFRA also sits on the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group which identifies better ways of preventing and tackling fly-tipping on private land by working closely with organisations like the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association, Network Rail and the National Trust. It has also issued guidance to landowners on how to deal with this problem.