Fly-tipping and Waste Offences

24th Feb 2020

House holders and businesses of any size should be aware of their duty of care for the disposal of waste.

Litigation and Disputes

For householders, this duty extends beyond ordinary household waste to include the discarding of old appliances, carpets and furniture. If a tradesman or business transports or disposes of waste as part of their business, or deals with or manages waste, they will need an appropriate waste management licence from the local authority.

Fly-tipping is typically investigated as a suspected breach of sections 33 and 34 Environmental Protection Act 1990. Section 33 prohibits the depositing of controlled waste in or on any land without a permit. The meaning of “controlled waste” is wide and includes any substance or object which the holder discards, intends to or is required to discard.

Section 34 imposes a duty on any person who imports, produces, carries, treats or disposes of controlled waste to take reasonable measures to prevent any other person breaching section 33.

Section 34(2A) imposes a duty on the occupier of any domestic property to take reasonable measures to secure that any household waste is transferred only to an authorised person or carrier.

DEFRA has issued a Waste duty of care Code of Practice which can be taken into account where appropriate in any proceedings.

Part 5 of the Code explains the duty of care of occupiers of domestic property and how they can show how they have met it. The duty of care relates to the transfer of waste only. If a tradesperson is working on the property, they are responsible for disposing of the waste they produce. Householders are advised to ensure that their trader’s quote includes the cost of disposing of any waste they produce as part of the job.

Councils have powers to investigate and prosecute waste offences. The Environment Agency will investigate the more serious offences. Section 33 offences are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Section 34 offences are punishable by a fine, or a fixed penalty notice for the less serious cases.

If the council suspects a waste offence has been committed, they can invite suspects to attend an interview under caution. The council must have regard to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act codes of practice. An individual is entitled to know the nature of the offence and why they are suspected of committing it before the interview. There must be reasonable, objective grounds for the suspicion based on relevant known facts or information.

If you have received an invitation to an interview under caution about a suspected waste offence, we can provide advice and assistance tailored to suit your individual needs.