Tough legislation long overdue to tackle flytipping scourge

Press Release

Tougher penalties for flytipping offenders and increased protection for victims contained in proposed legislation is welcome and long overdue, Scottish Land & Estates said today.

The rural business organisation has submitted its consultation response for a proposed Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament brought forward by Scottish Conservative MSP, Murdo Fraser.

SLE welcomed the measures contained within Mr Fraser’s proposals, including improvements in how flytipping incidents are recorded as well as strict liability for those who dispose of the waste.

A recent Scottish Government national litter and flytipping strategy consultation concluded in March and SLE said the changes suggested within Mr Fraser’s proposals were most welcome with tougher deterrents and penalties that would provide improved tools to tackle the widescale problem.

Simon Ovenden, Policy Adviser (Access and Visitor Management) at Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“Flytipping is a national shame which became significantly worse during the pandemic. It will take a collective effort to tackle this blight and the proposals set out by Murdo Fraser MSP would go some way to providing the tools needed to deal with flytipping offenders as well as providing support for those who find waste – often dangerous and hazardous – dumped on their land.

“We fully support efforts to create a national database to monitor and record flytipping incidents so that it can be used as a tool that will aid detection and support the prosecutions of offenders. Where flytipping has occurred across local authority boundaries, there needs to be a method of collaborative working developed which currently does not exist. Presently, if flytipped material is proven to have been taken from one area local authority area, but tipped in another, neither authority is likely to investigate and consequently no scrutiny or prosecution takes place – this needs to change and superior reporting systems can help.”

Mr Fraser also wants to change legal liability so that victims of flytipping are not also legally responsible for removing the waste.

Simon continued: “Ensuring victims of flytipping are not legally liable would also be a long overdue change to the law. This is possibly the only crime in Scotland where the victim, in this case the landowner, can be held financially responsible and threatened with prosecution for having a crime committed against them. If waste contains hazardous waste such as asbestos, a seven-day warning can be issued by local authorities, with the land manager additionally being threatened of possible prosecution. This appears to now be an established process across Scotland where the victim is made to pay, and not the offender or the local body responsible for such waste. We’re pleased that Mr Fraser proposes to address this injustice with local authorities permitted to remove waste from private land and, where possible, recoup costs from the offender and generator of the waste.

“In the vast majority of situations, flytipping is an offence committed by two or more parties. One is the originator of the waste, be that a householder, business or perhaps even the flytipper themselves. The second other party is the person who actually commits the flytipping offence. Both should be considered jointly responsible for the crime and face the same penalties. The principle of ‘the polluter pays’ must be adhered to.

“All too often, the cheap option is taken when hiring an individual or company to dispose of waste and this leads to materials being flytipped rather than being properly disposed of. If these changes were introduced, an onus would be placed on a waste customer to only hire a licensed contractor which would then help to drive out criminals from the industry. This change would also require a public information campaign to publicise the legislative change.”