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Revealed: The fly-tipping capital of Kent


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New data has revealed the identity of the fly-tipping capital of Kent – and shows two authorities did not hand out a single fine despite recording more than 4,000 incidents.

Councils across the county recorded 25,183 cases of fly-tipping in 2019/20, which is 27.8% of the total in the South East.

Rubbish was dumped on School Lane, Swanley. Picture credit: Kent County Council
Rubbish was dumped on School Lane, Swanley. Picture credit: Kent County Council

Of these, only 0.6% ended in a fixed penalty charge compared to the national average of 1.38%, according to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs data collected by Online Mortgage Adviser.

The only three areas in Kent doing better than the national average were Tunbridge Wells (1.82%), Tonbridge and Malling (1.89%) and Dartford (2.59%).

The fourth highest rate of charge was seen in Folkestone and Hythe, reaching only 0.44% of offenders.

According to the data, Swale and Ashford issued no fixed penalty charges for their combined 4,171 fly-tipping incidents in 2019/20, with 1,538 being seen in Ashford and 2,633 in Swale.

Both authorities say they did issue charges – but possibly not specifically for fly-tipping. A Swale Council spokesman said: “We issued 25 fixed penalty notices (FPN) in 2019/20 for waste-related offences in Swale.

Click on our interactive graphic of fly-tipping incidents

“We also ran educational campaigns for householders in an attempt to cut-off the supply of household waste that makes its way to illegal waste carriers.

“We regularly worked with Kent Police rural taskforce’s Operation Assist days to crack down on fly-tipping and introduced a new duty of care FPN for householders as a sanction for those that didn’t use licensed carriers to dispose of their waste responsibly.

“Although our fly-tipping numbers are higher than other boroughs, we still managed to reduce overall fly-tipping by more than 5% in this particular year.”

Swale Council was asked whether the "waste-related offences" were fly-tipping but had not responded by the time of publication.

A council spokesman from Ashford Council added: "In 2019/2020 we conducted 55 investigations sent 34 warning letters, and issued two fines. Flytipping is an issue we are committed to tackling and we work diligently to try and catch offenders.

This waste was found dumped in Castle Farm Road in Shoreham, near Sevenoaks. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council
This waste was found dumped in Castle Farm Road in Shoreham, near Sevenoaks. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council

"So far in 2020/2021 we have already conducted 124 investigations, sent 97 letters and issued seven fines. A dedicated environmental enforcement team will begin work later this year which will only add to our already robust response to fly-tipping in the borough."

Medway claims the unwanted title of Kent's fly-tipping capital with 5,713 recorded cases in 2019/20.

However, to put this into a UK-wide context, Camden had the most with 34,465.

James Brown, Medway Council’s head of regulatory services, said: “Fly-tipping is not tolerated in Medway. We clear incidents as quickly as we can and the majority of fly-tips are removed within one working day of them being reported to us.

"We investigate all fly-tipping incidents and will prosecute anyone found to be dumping waste in Medway.

This waste was found dumped in Castle Farm Road in Shoreham, near Sevenoaks. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council
This waste was found dumped in Castle Farm Road in Shoreham, near Sevenoaks. Picture: Sevenoaks District Council

"We work closely with partner agencies to gather intelligence on, disrupt and prosecute those involved in fly-tipping. We would encourage residents to report any fly-tipping incidents to us on our website. Click here to report an incident.

The area with the least incidents was Tonbridge and Malling with 581.

A Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council spokesman said: "While we’re pleased to have relatively low levels of fly-tipping in our borough, any amount is too much. As well as being a criminal offence, it blights our countryside, harms wildlife and costs a lot to clear up.

"We urge the public to help us clamp down on this selfish activity by reporting cases to us so we can clear dumped rubbish on public land and take the appropriate enforcement action where we have the evidence to do so."

Appalling flytipping at the former Howe Barracks site
Appalling flytipping at the former Howe Barracks site

Though Dartford had the second highest number of incidents, the borough had the highest number of incidents ending in a fixed penalty notice at 2.59%.

A Dartford Council spokesman: "We seize every opportunity to investigate fly-tips and come down hard on perpetrators; in fact, we detect the most fly tipping offences in Kent and Medway and will continue to robustly prosecute offenders. However, there is a reality that some incidents leave no evidence likely to lead to a prosecution.

"Our proximity to the M25 does not help matters, but our Environmental Enforcement Team is incredibly proactive in cleaning up the rubbish and either issuing fines or taking perpetrators to court.

"We believe it is important to have a policy which registers and records every fly-tip, however small, which can lead to higher numbers compared to other authorities, but it is an important part of building evidence which can lead to successful prosecutions."

Fly-tipping was reported to be on the rise last year as tips closed over lockdown.

Appalling flytipping at the former Howe Barracks site
Appalling flytipping at the former Howe Barracks site

Pease Hill in Ash, near Sevenoaks, was closed for two weeks in April after fly-tippers dumped asbestos there.

The 11-acre Legacy Park was also blighted with rubbish just a few weeks later, the state of which was branded an 'absolute disgrace.'

There are people who are out of pocket after being hit with fines for rubbish being dumped.

A woman from Canterbury was forced to pay £300 after she paid someone £90 on Facebook to dump her rubbish.

And a builder in the Sevenoaks area was fined more than £1,000 after he paid £180 for a man to take his rubbish rubbish without checking whether he was licensed.

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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