Campaigners call for overhaul of 'inadequate' fly-tipping laws

The rubbish has been dumped near the A14 near Kirton

Rubbish dumped in Brightwell Road near Kirton last month - Credit: Steve Smith

Countryside campaigners have joined forces with local authorities from across Suffolk to push for tougher punishments for fly-tipping.

More than 3,000 incidents were recorded by Suffolk councils in the year before the first national Covid-19 lockdown.

This week, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) joined local authorities and professional bodies from across the country to call on the Sentencing Council for harsher penalties.

The CLA said current sentences failed to always match the severity of offences or fairly reflect the cost to the public purse.

In a letter to the Sentencing Council, the CLA recommended changes that would mean court fines always exceed the cost of fixed penalty notices and include costs related to the clean-up and restoration of private land.

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The CLA recommends wider use of community-based sentences across all offence categories for those unable to pay a fine. 

Wider use of suspended sentences has also been called for, along with immediate custodial sentences for anyone convicted of a second offence.

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East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for the environment, James Mallinder, who signed the letter as chairman of the Suffolk Waste Partnership of local authorities, said: "How we deal with our waste is a really important aspect of climate emergency and making the right decisions is the perfect way we can all do something positive to care for our planet.

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for environment, James Mallinder

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for environment, James Mallinder - Credit: East Suffolk Council

"Suffolk provides all the services required for the correct disposal, but there is a minority of individuals that continue to fly-tip. This is frankly unacceptable, unnecessary and unsightly.  

"It not only causes damage to our environment, but costs us, the council tax-payer, as councils then correctly process this waste. 

"Suffolk Waste Partnership – working on behalf of Suffolk local government – was delighted to be asked to co-sign this letter. 

"Legislation is inadequate when we look at prosecutions, and so we need better legal enforcement. Only by all stakeholders coming together can we really tackle this crime."

Mark Tufnell, deputy president of the CLA, which represents 28,000 farmers, land managers and rural businesses across England and Wales, said: ““Currently, the maximum fine is £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment if convicted in a magistrates' court – but this is seldom enforced. 

"Cracking down on this type of crime will only be achieved if tougher fines are imposed."

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