We all know that fly-tipping is an offence, but did you know you commit an offence if you pass waste to someone who isn’t licensed? 

What do you mean by ‘waste’?

This article is referring to household waste, for example, excess rubbish that does not fit in your general collection bins.

How could I commit an offence?

You have a ‘duty of care’ to take all measures reasonable in the circumstances to ensure you only transfer waste to an ‘authorised’ person. Note that if a tradesperson working at your house produces waste, they are responsible for the removal and disposal.

Although most offences of fly-tipping are committed by someone paid to take the waste away rather than the person who produced the waste, this means that you commit an offence if the person you ask to take the waste is not licensed and illegally disposes of it.

What is an authorised person?

This is usually the local authority collection service, a registered waste carrier or an operator of a registered site. You can check if a person is licensed on the Environment Agency website.

What could happen to me?

The government is introducing a fixed penalty notice for breaches of the household duty of care. Currently, you could be offered a caution, warning or be prosecuted for failing to comply with your duty of care. The new penalty notice system provides an alternative to a prosecution.

The penalty will range from £150 to £400; the minimum discounted penalty available will be £120. The penalty is set deliberately at a high rate as otherwise it may still be cheaper to use an illegal waste collector, it is intended to act as a deterrent and is therefore set at a rate that is higher than the cost of legitimate disposal.

The guidance produced by the government for local councils’ states that householders should not be fined for minor breaches and consideration should be given as to whether it is proportionate and in the public interest to issue a notice to a person who is classed as vulnerable.

What if I do not pay the penalty?

If you chose not to pay the penalty you can be prosecuted for the offence through the courts. The typical fine imposed at court is likely to be significantly higher than the penalty notice.

When will the law be brought in?

The law to introduce the penalty is expected to be in force early next year (2019).

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