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  Inside Out East: Monday January 12, 2004


Piers Pratt
Piers Pratt removes tyres dumped on his farm

As the Government tries to encourage recycling by charging for landfill and dumping, incidences of fly tipping are increasing. Inside Out investigates fly tipping, and the cost of the big clean up.

A recent survey by the Country Landowners Association (CLA) showed that in most councils surveyed, tipping had increased.

It also showed that in East Anglia, nearly 60% of farms have experienced fly tipping, by far the worst area in the UK.

According to the Environment Agency, Norfolk has also seen a 30% increase in reported incidences in the last year.


"I’d love to catch them – I even carry a camera – but you never see them."
Justin Ward

The two most common causes cited for tipping are laziness and cost. The most common materials to be tipped are garden waste, white goods, DIY waste, tyres and furniture.

One reason is that commercial waste is subject to landfill tax at £14 per tonne. Unscrupulous builders just dump it to avoid paying.

But surprisingly, Inside Out discovered that a large amount of tipping was committed by people who simply can’t be bothered to take their rubbish to the local tip.

Clear up cost

Even more surprisingly, if that rubbish is dumped on private land it is the responsibility of the landowner to clear it up – and pay for it.


Removal of bags of bottles and cans, broken bicycles and video players to commercial tip. Also landfill tax.
Cost = £54.54

Hire of licenced waste disposal company to collect tyres. Piers not allowed to handle these himself as he is not licenced.
Cost = £352.50

Tyre recycling costs at £40 per tonne. It is illegal to dump tyres in landfill, so Piers has no choice.
Cost = £240

TOTAL COST = £647.04

Piers Pratt farms near Downham Market in West Norfolk. He is plagued by tippers.

When presenter Nick Lawrence went to meet him, he was faced with bags of bottles and cans, garden waste, piles of old video recorders, garden furniture and a large number of old tyres.

Piers says, "I find this incredible. The dump is just a few miles away, yet people drive here. Rubbish is gregarious – if I don’t pick it up it attracts more!"

Inside Out followed Piers' clean up operation, which cost a staggering £647.04. The breakdown of this cost can be seen in the table above.

Who should pay?

The Country Landowners and Business Association believe that the government’s aim to make landowners protect their land is unreasonable. They say it is totally impractical to install floodlights and CCTV around the massive farms around the East.

Director Regional Paul Long says, "Why on earth should Piers have to foot the bill for this?"

But Nick Johnson of the Environment Agency, says it is not appropriate for the Agency to pay for the clean up on private land, "We’ll investigate and try and catch them, but we can’t remove waste. It’s a bit like the police – they’ll investigate if you have a burgarly but they won’t bring you a new TV or video."

Public land tipping

Litter in a bin
Much of the waste dumped could be placed in a normal household bin

When waste is tipped on public land, it is the local Council who must clean it up. Justin Ward’s job is to cover a 30 square mile area around Kings Lynn for West Norfolk Borough Council.

The council has an average of 145 incidences a month reported to them.

Justin says, "It is frustrating sometimes. The worst I have seen was when I cleared up a load of waste and when I went back an hour later, more had already been dumped there.

"I’d love to catch them – I even carry a camera – but you never see them."


The Environment Agency also has a role in fly tipping. Their role is regulator, so they are behind most prosecutions. In Norfolk, they are embarking on a campaign involving the use of secret cameras.

In Luton, the council has already had a campaign which has resulted in a staggering 125 successful prosecutions for littering and fly tipping in 2003. Monthly environmental clean up days are held where a small area of the town is blitzed and cleared of all fly tipping and abandoned cars.

Abandoned car
Abandoned vehicles are cleared from Luton's streets

During November's clean up day, 30 abandoned cars and 25 loads of rubbish were cleared.

It’s already made a huge difference, according to David Biles of the Arson Task Force, "We sweep the area street by street. The main aim is to improve the environment for the residents."


The Environment Agency say they want the public to be the solution, by reporting tipping.

Nick Johnson says, "We want people to shop the perpetrators who are increasing everyone’s tax bills."

Anyone who has information on fly tippers or details of an incidence can call the Environment Agency’s hotline on:
0800 807060.

See also ...

Inside Out: East
More great stories

BBC News Online: Farmers fear fly tippers

On the rest of the web
Environment Agency
Keep Britain Tidy

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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