Action to be taken against householders who have failed in their duty to use licenced waste carriers

On Wednesday 5 February 2020, East Devon District Council’s Cabinet approved the introduction of an additional fixed penalty fine against householders who fail in their duty of care in respect of how their waste is disposed.

This sends a strong message to householders because the financial penalty will be exactly the same as it already is for anyone caught actually fly-tipping waste themselves.

The council has adopted this variation in order to be able to use the following new penalties:

  • £200 fine (reduced to £120 if paid within ten days of service of the notice) for small fly tips of 180 litres (a standard wheeled bin) or less.
  • £400 fine (reduced to £200 if paid within ten days of service of the notice) for medium and large fly tips.

Officers from both the Environmental Health and StreetScene teams will now be able to issue a fixed penalty notice to a person who had breached their duty of care by not ensuring the proper disposal of their waste.

Householders must either pass waste on to the council’s collection service, or take certain waste to recycling centres or pass it on to registered waste carriers. They must not pass waste on to any person who does not hold a licence.

If unlicensed collectors are used they may fly tip the waste and in these cases the householder remains responsible for it. If the fly tipper cannot be found then the originator of the waste can be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

During the past two years the Environmental Health service of East Devon District Council has investigated 49 littering and fly tipping cases and issued 25 fixed penalty notices. They have collected £3,460 in fines and £1,263 in clean up reimbursement costs.

Enforcement is only possible in cases where sufficient evidence is obtained, and this is gathered by council officers, landowners and members of the public. There has been one successful prosecution.

Fly tipping can occur on either private or public land and the council often assists private landowners who have been left with an unwelcome problem.

Council officers carry out extensive enquiries to enable them to identify who might have fly tipped waste and where it came from. This will include tracing and contacting the householder responsible for generating the waste and locating any third parties involved.

The Environmental Health team frequently liaises closely with other local authorities and enforcement agencies.

Commercial carriers of waste must hold a licence and they are at risk of being issued with a fixed penalty if they carry waste without one.

Some of the fly-tips investigated have involved a significant quantity of material or large items such as mattresses and white goods, but many of them amounted to just two or three black bags, fast food packaging or one or two small electrical items.

During their investigations officers will interview the originator of the waste in order to ascertain how their waste came to be found as a fly tip. In most cases the originator, usually a householder, has not acted responsibly and has not taken details of the person who removed their waste. They must therefore maintain responsibility for the final disposal because the regulations require that waste originators must ensure that their waste is properly disposed of (for example by using the council collection facilities or the recycling centres).

Householders can check that waste carriers are licensed on the Environment Agency website. They can arrange for a bulky waste or additional collection by contacting the council’s Customer Services team on 01395 516551 or making a request using the council’s website eastdevon.gov.uk/waste

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

For several years now councils have lobbied the Government to introduce an additional provision, which enables action to be taken against the householders from whom waste may be taken by third parties.

The intention of this is to deter householders from using any waste carriers that are not able to confirm that they hold a waste carriers licence and use approved disposal facilities. The unlicensed carriers tend to be “Man and Van” type operations advertising on social media or plying their trade from door to door.

If fixed penalties are not paid a prosecution will result. For example, in Exmouth, a householder deposited a significant quantity of household waste in the service lane behind her property. She refused to pay either the fine or clear up costs and this case was successfully prosecuted in the magistrate’s court. The householder was required to pay £1,500 in fines and costs. Whereas, if she had contacted the council to request a bulky waste collection service it would have cost her less than £100.

Most people deal with their waste in the right way, but there are still some very irresponsible individuals out there. We will endeavour to catch and fine them.