We looked at the data for fly tipping by Local Authorities in England for 2013/14 made available by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and then mapped it using the online mapping tool, CartoDB.
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Fly Tipping Incidents and Management across Local Authorities in England for 2013/14
Local Authorities dealt with a total of 852 thousand incidents of fly-tipping in this period, with nearly two thirds of fly-tips involving household waste. Approximately a third of incidents consisted of a small van load of material or less.
After years of decline, these numbers show an increase of 20 per cent since the year before, although improved systems and training in some authorities will explain some of that increase.
The estimated cost of clearance to Local Authorities in England in 2013/14 was £45.2 million, a 24 per cent increase on 2012/13. And that is on top £17.3 million for the 500 thousand investigation and followup enforcement actions – an increase of 18 per cent.
Interestingly, the penalties and fines levied are small in comparison to the costs above. Of the 1,685 fines issued with a value of just £0.5 million, only 62 were in the £1,000 – £5,000 and none were above that up to the maximum of £50,000. The value of fixed penalties issued is not included in the data, but we do know that 36,835 notices were issued. The penalties vary but if we take an estimate of £75 for each, that provides a total penalty of £2.7 million.
So how do local authorities vary and how does this look on the map?
The data varies greatly between authorities suggesting not only different approaches to dealing with the problem, but also differences in how incidents, investigations and follow up actions are recorded.
The map shows a selection of the data through 4 measures which can be seen by pressing the selector in the top right hand corner:
- Incidents per 1,000 heads of population
- Total costs (Investigation, Followup Enforcement Action and Clearance)
- Total costs per 1,000 heads
- Investigations and Followups per 1,000 incidents
Some observations include:
- Southend on Sea shows an incident rate of 1.43 per 1,000 people whereas Lancaster has a rate of 45. This surely must be a difference in how incidents are recorded. Some of the range can be seen in the table below.
- Plymouth’s cost of investigation, action and clearance per 1,000 people of £2,169 is 2.5 times that of Exeter’s at £868. Notably, however, Exeter’s spend per 1,000 on investigation and action is double that of Plymouth’s suggesting that there approach is working.
- Swindon recorded 1,480 incidents and no investigations, but that 114 enforcement actions were carried out. This compares to Tower Hamlets with 5,201 incidents and 15,150 resulting investigations which led to 2,907 follow up enforcement actions.
|Oadby and Wigston||0.45||Newham||209|
|Weymouth and Portland||1.82||Burnley||60|
|Suffolk Coastal||1.84||Great Yarmouth||51|
|St Edmundsbury||1.84||Hammersmith and Fulham||51|
Incidents per 1,000 Head of Population
This map is based on the current data openly available and includes differences in the ways authorities record their data. However, it does show highs and lows and that much work can and should be done, both to improve how this issue is managed and also in improving the quality of the data.
DEFRA asked me to include the following statement:
“Local authorities should not be classified as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ performers based purely on numbers of fly-tips they have recorded. The position is complex and population density, housing stock and commuter routes can all have an impact.
Those reporting higher incident numbers are often those being rigorous in identifying incidents, actively encouraging the public to report incidents or training their street crews to correctly report incidents. Some authorities may also have large enforcement teams using modern, sophisticated methods (covert surveillance, smartwater) to catch professional fly-tippers. Other factors such as population density, housing stock and commuter routes can all have an impact. The position is complex and for these reasons like for like comparisons between local authorities should not be made.”