Fly Tipping Incidents in England Rise 40% Since 2012/13 at an Annual Cost of £58m to Councils

Fly Tipping Incidents in England Rise 40% Since 2012/13 at an Annual Cost of £58m to Councils

Fly tipping is not only an environmental disaster but also costs the tax payer millions of pounds to resolve (over £58 million in 2016-20171). Keen Emu blog readers may remember we had an intern, Alice Millard, who wrote a blog in May 2016 all about fly tipping (read it here). We thought it was a good time to revisit this topic as it is still a massive and costly issue that has not gone away. To optimise our analysis we have used Location Insights Explorer, to analyse and visualise the latest data on Fly Tipping. View the interactive version of the blog here.

You can learn more about Location Insights Explorer and how London Borough of Barking & Dagenham are using it to help measure social progress here.

Fly-tipping is defined as the ‘illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it’1. Fly tipping varies from small to large domestic items and also includes commercial and trade waste. It is an environmental crime and convicted individuals can be fined up to £50,000, whilst convicted companies can be fined up to £3 million. In 2016-2017 there were over 1 million fly tipping incidents 2 which cost councils over £58 million to clear up1.

Using Location Insights Explorer we are able to map the distribution of these fly tipping incidents across England. In addition, we can combine them with open datasets to build a clear and comprehensive picture of where fly tipping is happening. In 2016-2017 (Figure 1) there were 1,002,154 incidents in England, up 41% from 711,493 in 2012-132. The vast majority of incidents occurred next to a highway and were household waste incidents.

Figure 1. Graph showing fly tipping incidents in England between 2012 and 20172.

Figure 2. Fly tipping incidents in England broken down by location 2016-172

Figure 3. Fly tipping incidents in England broken down by type 2016-172


Fly tipping incidents by Local Authority

Figures 4 and 5 show the number of incidents per Local Authority. The London Borough of Enfield was the Local Authority with the largest number of reported fly tipping incidents. Over 75,000 occurred during 2016 – 2017. Seven of the top ten worst affected local authorities were London boroughs.

Figure 4. Fly tipping incidents by English Local Authority 2016-172

Rank Local Authority Incidents
1 Enfield 75614
2 Haringey 33333
3 Manchester 28508
4 Croydon 24797
5 Hounslow 22973
6 Liverpool 20832
7 Newham 19917
8 Northampton 18128
9 Brent 17340
10 Southwark 17131

Figure 5. Top 10 English Local Authorities for fly tipping 2016-172

Fly tipping per head of population

Looking at total incidents is only one view and does not take into account the size of local authority or the number of people living there. Figure 6 normalises the number of incidents based on the population6 – Enfield is still the Local Authority with the highest number of reported fly tipping incidents. Once normalised, the City of London is the second worst affected Local Authority. Again, six of the ten worst affected Local Authorities fall within Greater London with Great Yarmouth, Northampton, Croydon, Pendle and Gateshead also falling within the top ten.

Many Local Authorities have introduced new policies to try and clamp down on the problem. Haringey is ranked 3rd in terms of the number of fly tipping incidents relative to the population. The council has now launched ‘Operation Clean Streets’ which hopes to cut the number of incidents in the borough 9. Hopefully such schemes will see a reduction in levels of fly tipping when the latest stats are released towards the end of the year.

Figure 6. Fly tipping incidents per English Local Authority head of population 2016-172,6

Local Authority Population Incidents Incidents per Population Rank Rank per head of population
Enfield 332700 75614 0.227 1 1
City of London 7700 1731 0.225 118 2
Haringey 271200 33333 0.123 2 3
Hounslow 269100 22973 0.085 5 4
Hammersmith and Fulham 183000 14870 0.081 12 5
Great Yarmouth 99400 7993 0.080 26 6
Northampton 225700 18128 0.080 8 7
Croydon 384800 24797 0.064 4 8
Pendle 90700 5704 0.063 37 9
Gateshead 202400 11826 0.058 18 10

Figure 7. Fly tipping incidents in England by head of population2,6

The cost of fly tipping

The cost of clearing up these fly tipping incidents is huge (Figure 8). In 2016/17 the cost was highest in the following 10 Local Authorities 2:

  • Enfield (£3,037,229)
  • Manchester (£2,812,890)
  • Croydon (£1,911,094)
  • Southwark (£1,723,403)
  • Haringey (£1,444,089)
  • Newham (£1,361,916)
  • Leeds (£1,354,522)
  • Liverpool (£972,686)
  • Birmingham (£931,441)
  • Northampton (£885,562)

In these ten Local Authorities alone, the cost of clearing up the fly tipping incidents exceeded £16m.

Figure 8. Cost of clearing up the fly tipping incidents2. The darkest red colour represents clearance costs between £180,000 and >£3m.

The change in fly tipping incidents over time

Across England, the total number of incidents reported each year has gone up since 2012. This is not the case when you look by Local Authority. Figure 9 colours the centre of each Local Authority according to if it saw an increase or decrease in the number of incidents and the size of the circle represents the size of change. Kingston Upon Thames saw the greatest increase in number of incidents, rising from 126 in 2012/13 to 1,528 in 2016/17. Plymouth saw the greatest decrease, falling from 10,970 in 2012/13 to 718 in 2016/17.

Figure 9a. Change in fly tipping incidents by English Local Authority 2012/13 to 2016/172

Figure 9b. Change in fly tipping incidents by London Borough 2012/13 to 2016/172

Name % change in incidents since 2012
Kingston upon Thames 1112.70
Castle Point 479.62
Leeds 451.73
Hackney 445.41
Wyre 399.32
Fareham 362.33
Isle of Wight 360.32
Weymouth and Portland 358.49
Nuneaton and Bedworth 353.23
Enfield 323.11

Figure 10. Top 10 by percentage increase in fly tipping by English Local Authority2

Name % change in incidents since 2012
Scarborough -58.39
Eastbourne -59.64
Nottingham -60.28
South Cambridgeshire -61.21
Sunderland -62.55
South Lakeland -69.44
Lewes -71.62
Knowsley -77.44
Lewisham -81.79
Plymouth -93.45

Figure 11. Top 10 by percentage decrease in fly tipping by English Local Authority2

Availability of recycling facilities

Figure 12 shows the locations of all the recycling points, centres and landfill sites in England (the location of recycling points and centres is according to Open Street Map only). So does the number of fly tipping incidents relate to the availability of recycling facilities in each Local Authority? Not entirely.

Figure 12. Map of recycling centre locations by Local Authority5a, 5b. Blue = Recycling Points, Purple = Recycling Centres and Green = Landfill Sites.

Figure 13 shows the number of recycling centres in each Local Authority (according to Open Street Map), and although Enfield has the most reported incidents it also has a relatively large number of recycling centres (3) and recycling points (15). Great Yarmouth has the sixth highest number of incidents relative to population yet also has 59 recycling points and 2 recycling centres.

Figure 13. Number of recycling centres in each Local Authority5a

The following table shows the 10 Local Authorities with the most recycling facilities (according to Open Street Map) to see if there is a correlation between the number of fly tipping incidents and recycling facilities in each Local Authority. Forest Heath has the most recycling facilities yet also has relatively few fly tipping incidents. However, Manchester is in the top 3 Local Authorities for total number of fly tipping incidents and also within the top 20 for number of recycling facilities.

Local Authority Fly tipping incidents Recycling Points5a Recycling Centres5a Total Recycling Facilities
Forest Heath 264 119 0 119
Westminster 10,075 115 0 115
Newark and Sherwood 1,263 100 1 101
Leeds 16,425 80 12 92
Camden 6,778 90 1 91
Birmingham 14,799 78 5 83
Islington 3,011 80 1 81
Cambridge 1,889 78 0 78
Exeter 906 70 2 72
Cherwell 538 68 0 68

Figure 14. Correlation between fly tipping incidents and number of recycling facilities for the 10 Local Authorities with the most recycling facilities.

Ruralness and Deprivation

The ruralness of each Local Authority may also be a contributing factor, Figure 16 shows the percentage of rural population for each Local Authority3. There are 30 Local Authorities which have a rural population of over 99%, each of which have a relatively low number of fly tipping incidents. The rural population is defined by the percentage of residents that live in rural areas or ‘rural related’ hub towns. In this sense rural is related to settlement type and dwelling density. 53 Local Authorities have 0% rural population (and 89 have less than 1%) in general they have a greater number of fly tipping incidents relative to the population (with some notable exceptions including: Plymouth, Slough, Southend-on-Sea, Worthing, Ipswich, Oadby and Wigston, Eastbourne and Portsmouth). Ten of the fifteen Local Authorities with the greatest number of fly tipping incidents relative to the population have 0% rural population. When this is broken down by rural classification the average number of fly tipping events per 1000 people is greatest in Local Authorities which are classified as “Urban with Major Conurbation” (Figure 17). This suggests that the more urban an area is the more likely fly tipping is.


Figure 15. % Rural population in each Local Authority3

Figure 16. Average number of fly tipping incidents broken down by rural classification3

Deprivation and fly tipping is another interesting relationship to explore. The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)4 gives each Local Authority a score, with a higher score representing a more deprived Local Authority. The most deprived Local Authority in 2015 was Manchester, this was also the Local Authority which saw the 15th highest levels of fly tipping relative to the population. Knowsley is the main exception, this is the 5th most deprived Local Authority yet only saw just over 500 fly tipping incidents in 2016/17 (equivalent to 3.6 incidents per 1000 people). 23 out of the 25 least deprived Local Authorities had fewer than 10 fly tipping incidents per 1000 population in 2016/17. The average number of fly tipping incidents per Local Authority was 17 per 1000 people suggesting these authorities saw figures well below average. At the other end of the scale, Richmond-Upon-Thames is in the top 10% of least deprived Local Authorities yet saw a fly tipping rate of 26.8 per 1000 people in 2016 – 2017. Richmond-upon-Thames have introduced fines for all fly tipping offenders (previously it was only for repeat offenders) to try and reduce the number of incidents8. Figure 18 displays the IMD and Figure 19 compares IMD and fly tipping incidents. There is a weak correlation which suggests that a greater deprivation might result in a greater number of fly tipping incidents relative to the population but it doesn’t seem to be a key factor.

Figure 17. Index of Multiple Deprivation4

Figure 18. Graph comparing IMD4 and rank of normalised fly tipping incidents (Higher IMD = more deprived, Higher rank = fewer fly tipping incidents relative to the population).

This excellent report by Keep Britain Tidy7 uncovers other behavioural traits associated with fly tipping in London such as:

  • Being younger (especially for fly tipping of black bags and cardboard waste)
  • Being of European nationality
  • Living in a smaller household space
  • Being a full time student or full time worker (for small waste such as black bags and cardboard)
  • Being unemployed (for larger fly tipping items)

And the most common type of fly tipping, based on those surveyed, is leaving black bags next to household bins on collection day, leaving cardboard around public recycling bins and leaving donations outside a charity shop when it is closed. Many people do not believe this kind of activity counts as fly tipping, and this may be why fly tipping levels are higher in urban areas.

Hopefully this blog will have shed some light on the issue of fly tipping and shows that by visualising data in Location Insights Explorer we can start to understand more about the potential causes and solutions.

All of the interactive map data can be viewed at https://locationinsights.co.uk/b/aC. Explore the different maps by clicking on the Layer Selector on the right hand menu.

Get in touch to see how your data can be used and understood better and by all.

This article was written by Alice Goudie, Senior Location Insight Analyst at Emu Analytics.

Data sources: