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Fly Tipping: A Plague over the Kentish countryside

For many of us that live in Kent, The pristine views of the English countryside are a common and welcome site. However in recent years everywhere you turn is plagued and defiled by litter, rubbish and Fly-tipping.


Appalling: Rubbish dumped in Minchin woods, Kent.

When did the UK become a glorified dumping ground for those who aren’t considerate enough to dispose of waste through proper channels? Uk taxes on landfill sites have lead to an increase in fly tipping in recent years. with the cost of disposing of rubbish and waste increasing, the amount of ‘businesses’ and individuals that fly-tip is also on the rise.

The Appalling statistics:

  • Fly tipping and illegal rubbish dumping is at an all time high in England, with more than 900 thousand fly tipping incidents reported between 2014 and 2015, an increase of 5.6 per cent since 2013.
  • The estimated cost of clearance of fly-tipping to local authorities in England in 2014/15 was nearly £50 million, an 11 per cent increase on 2013/14.
  • The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways which accounted for 48 per cent of total incidents in 2014/15.
  • Incidents of fly-tipping on footpaths, bridleways and back alleyways increased by 3.2 per cent in England in 2014/15. Together these now account for 28 per cent of fly-tipping incidents.
  • More than 50% of landowners experience a case of fly-tipping every year.
  • The RSPCA receives 7,000 calls a year about animals injured by litter.
  • An RSPB study found that 95% of fulmars washed up dead on the North Sea coast had ingested plastic.
  • About 10% of balloons return to Earth intact, jeopardising wildlife; some 1.2 million balloon scraps have washed up during the past 25 years.
  • It costs about £60,000 a year to clear chewing gum from a town centre; if a bird gets gum stuck in its beak, it will die.
  • Fly-tipping costs Network Rail more than £2.3 million each year.
  • Every year, the Highways Agency clears some 180,000 sacks of litter from motorways and A roads alone.
  • Volunteers on the 2013 Beachwatch Big Weekend found 7,395 drinks bottles and 14,376 caps and lids; last year, 2,457 items were collected per kilometre.
  • In 2013, 33 tons of contaminated rubbish were dumped on the Enville estate in the West Midlands; they cost £7,000 to remove.
  • There could be 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of the ocean, about 80% of which comes from the land—plastic takes eons (at least 450 years) to break down in seawater.
  • Cigarette butts can take up to 12 years to break down and a plastic bag up to 20 years to decompose fully.
  • Thirty million tons of rubbish are collected from England’s streets each year—enough to fill Wembley Stadium four times over; cleaning up Britain costs nearly £1 billion a year.
Statistics sourced from and


This can be prevented: piles of waste at a fly tipping site in Minchin woods, Kent.

In areas surrounding Kingsdown, Kent many fly tipping sights can be found with some of the most common places for rubbish dumping being bridleways, footpaths through the local woods and roadsides. Although local authorities and councils are required to clear away rubbish on public land, it is often the case that no help is provided when rubbish is dumped on private property. I spoke with a local Kentish land owner; Mr John Leigh-Pemberton, whom experiences a large amount of fly tipping on his land, to gain his unique perspective on the issue.


(Hannah Cooper – Interviewer): Thank you for being here today.

(John Leigh-Pemberton): It’s a pleasure.

(HC): So firstly how do you feel about fly tipping, and how has it affected you on a personal level?

(JP): It makes me very angry, because of the way the legal framework it set up on fly tipping now. If somebody dumps rubbish on my land off the public highway, it is my responsibility to get rid of it. I can’t get any assistance from the council, and it costs me money to get rid of it. If it’s dangerous waste like asbestos, it can cost me over £3000.

(HC): How often do you experience fly tipping on your land? And how long has it been going on for?

(JP): At least once a week or once a fortnight. And it’s been going on for at least the past 20 years.

(HC): Would you say that fly tipping has increased in recent years?

(JP): Yes, I think it definitely has, and I think that the reason it has is because they have been tightening up on what you can and can’t bring into waste disposal sites and the cost of it has gone up as well. And what all this does is promote illegal dumping of waste.

(HC): What do you have to do to remove rubbish from your land? And how much does it cost to have that rubbish removed?

(JP): I normally have to go out to the fly tipping site myself, and bring a team of people with me. Then we go out there with a JCB and/or a tractor – trailer then we have to shovel it all up and dispose of it properly. Or I can pay someone to get ride of it for me, either way it can cost me hundreds or thousands of pounds.

(HC): What would you like to be done about fly tipping in the future?

(JP): First of all I think there should be significantly increased penalties, I think they should have their vehicles confiscated and fined. And I think they should be put in prison for fly tipping. Secondly I think there needs to be a large campaign for public awareness to help people to understand the importance of using genuinely licenced waste disposal businesses if they need rubbish disposed of. I also think that if you see anyone fly tipping or know of anyone doing it then you should report them.

(HC): Well thank you for being here today and answering my questions.

This is just an extract, the full interview can be found at:


Fly tipping is an issue that affects everyone, not just those of us that live in the countryside.

We all need to come together as a community to help prevent this horrific problem, Stricter rules, regulations and punishments need to be put into place regarding the illegal disposal of waste.

If you need to dispose of any rubbish yourself or if someone else is disposing of rubbish for you please make sure you are using legitimate and trusted businesses and legal waste disposal sites. If you see a fly tipping site or catch someone illegally dumping rubbish, please report it to your local authorities.




Video piece:

Fly Tipping Exposé