What is fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is the illegal disposal of household, industrial, commercial or other 'controlled' waste. The waste can be liquid or solid; controlled waste includes garden refuse and larger domestic items such as fridges and mattresses.

Fly-tipping is not the same as littering. Littering is commonly assumed to include materials, often associated with smoking, eating and drinking.  

Report fly-Tipping

Dorset Council area

Report fly-Tipping

BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole) Council area

Report fly-Tipping Anonymously



In May 2022, a research briefing on ‘Fly-tipping: the illegal dumping of waste’ was published by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), highlighting the issues of fly-tipping and showcasing the work being done to tackle it.

How big is the problem?

Government fly-tipping statistics for England 2021/22 show that:

  • Local authorities in England dealt with 1.09 million fly-tipping incidents, a decrease of 4% from the 1.14 million reported in 2020/21.
  • The percentage of fly-tips involving household waste has fallen from 65% in 2020/21 to 61% in 2021/22. Total incidents involving household waste were 671,000 in 2021/22, a decrease of 9% from 740,000 incidents in 2020/21

Responsibility for fly-tipping and powers to require clearance

  • Local authorities are responsible for investigating, clearing and taking appropriate enforcement action in relation to small scale fly-tipping on public land
  • In England, the Environment Agency is responsible for dealing with waste crime including;  larger scale fly-tipping (over a full lorry load), hazardous waste, and fly-tipping by organised crime gangs. See here for details and how to report. Waste Crime is the unlawful management of waste by those who don’t manage, transport or dispose of waste correctly. Anyone dealing with waste needs to abide by the environmental regulations designed to control the disposal, management and transfer of waste. These regulations are managed and enforced by the Environment Agency. 
  • On private land, it is normally the responsibility of the landowner to remove the waste. 

Local authorities and the Environment Agency have legal powers to require landowners to clear fly-tipped waste from their land. They also have powers to enter the land and clear it and may seek reimbursement for costs related to it. Concern has been raised with Government about the costs involved to private landowners of clearing fly-tipped waste from their land. However, in Dorset we are working together as a range of agencies and organisations, to target fly-tipping and the associated challenges.

Penalties for fly-tipping

There is currently no minimum fine set out in law for unlawfully depositing waste, however the maximum fine is increasing from £400 to £1,000. Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the independent courts. There are also several other possible penalties, including fixed penalty notices and having a vehicle seized. Householders can be fined up to £600 if they pass their waste to an unlicensed waste carrier which is subsequently fly-tipped.