Councils count the cost of clearing flytipping

Fly-tipping across Essex has cost the county’s local authorities hundreds of thousands of pounds to clear since 2019.

A series of freedom of information requests sent to councils in Essex has revealed that clearing dumped rubbish often costs councils tens of thousands of pounds every year.

According to the responses, Basildon Borough Council cleared the most over a three year period, at 11,381 between calendar years 2019 and 2021.

The total number of fly-tips across the whole of Essex over the period came to 45,999.

A Basildon Council spokesperson said in a statement: “The number of incidents where items have been removed was down 17.1% in 2021 when compared with 2020. In the last six months, the council has issued over 150 fines for the unauthorised deposit of waste, plus there have been a number of prosecutions of individuals and householders responsible for fly-tipping.

“The council employs an in-house enforcement team, supported by an external contractor to undertake enforcement patrols and tackle the issue across the borough. The council also utilises mobile CCTV to help identify and catch those responsible, and we’ve recently doubled the fine for fly-tipping from £200 to £400 to act as a deterrent to committing the act.

“The majority of residents do the right thing with their waste, and we encourage all residents to book bulky waste collections and only use reputable contractors.”

Basildon – 11,381 fly-tips

In its response, Basildon Borough Council said it spent £70,000 each year clearing fly-tipped waste.

The council cleared 3,566 fly-tips in 2019, 4,272 in 2020 and 3,543 in 2021, with the highest single month across the three years being 579 cases in July 2020.

Average monthly fly-tips cleared by the council was 297 in 2019, 356 in 2020 and 295 in 2021, to the nearest case.

Castle Point – 3,104 fly-tips

The cost of cleaning up fly-tipped waste is built into Castle Point Borough Council’s street cleansing contract, according to its response. It declined to provide specific costs.

The council cleared 894 fly-tips in 2019 with 75 monthly cases on average, 1,160 in 2020 with 96 average monthly cases and 1,050 in 2021 with 88 average monthly cases.

June 2021 was the highest month of fly-tips that had to be cleared by the council, at 118.

Chelmsford – 1,000 fly-tips

Chelmsford City Council spent £13,911 on clearing fly-tipped waste in 2019, £14,702 and £59,303 in 2021.

It cleared 163 fly-tips in 2019, and 160 in 2020, but 677 in 2021.

The council records its case numbers in quarters, with April-June 2021 being the highest quarter, seeing 215 fly-tips.

However, the monthly average number of fly-tips cleared by the council, to the nearest case, was 14 in 2019 and 2020, and 56 in 2021.

Epping Forest – 416 fly-tips

In Epping Forest, the financial year saw 268 total fly-tips cleared, at a cost £29,782.06 to the district council.

According to the district council’s response, it cost £21,454.95 to clear 148 fly-tips in 2020-2019.

Maldon – 1,035 fly-tips

According to data from Waste Data Flow, there were 388 reported incidents of fly-tipping in the Maldon district in 2019, 485 in 2020 and 162 in the first quarter of 2021.

Rochford – 1,535 fly-tips

Rochford District Council estimates its annual cost for clearing up fly-tipped waste is £80,000.

However, it says the fly tipping clean-up operation is part of a larger contract with Suez, who also do litter picking, emptying bins, sweeping pavements and road and weed clearance for the council for a larger sum.

According to its response, this was £700,592.08 in 2019, £706,196.81 in 2020 and £716,789.76 in 2021.

The council cleared 487 fly-tips in 2019, 588 in 2020 and 460 in 2021, with the average monthly numbers of incidents being 41 in 2019, 49 in 2020 and 38 in 2021, to the nearest whole case.

A large fly-tip in Rochford

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter