HOUSEHOLDERS should check those clearing any waste on their behalf are properly licensed or risk being hit with a £300 fine.
That’s the warning from a top environmental health official who has issued a reminder that powers to tackle fly tipping can also be used against householders and not only those who have illegally dumped waste.
Huw Owen, who is responsible for environmental health in Monmouthshire, was speaking as an increase in fly-tipping in the county was confirmed which he said could have been linked to the Covid lockdowns.
The council’s principle environmental health officer said the Welsh Government has given local authorities powers to issue fixed penalties when a householders has failed to check if a person taking away their waste has the proper licence.
He said: “If you are getting rid of goods and get a knock on the door from a man with a van, you must ask if they are a registered waste carrier.
“If you don’t, and the waste ends up tipped on a mountainside, and we get the evidence then the householder could be issued with a fine.”
The powers for fixed penalties were introduced by the Welsh Government in 2019 and its Fly-Tipping Action Wales website says householders can be liable for £300 fines if they fail to check a person or business disposing of their waste is registered with Natural Resources Wales. Fines can be reduced to £150 for early payment.
Fixed penalty fines can’t be appealed, as the person accepting one is acknowledging their liability, but the Welsh Government says councils must use such powers proportionally and the fine should be withdrawn if a convincing case against it being issued is made by a householder, including whether issuing the fine is in the public interest.
Councils must also allow households to show they have met their duty of care but their is no requirement on someone to keep any written records when transferring waste and they can still make the case they have met their obligations without any written records.
Mr Owen was speaking during a meeting of Monmouthshire council’s performance scrutiny committee where he acknowledged fly-tipping had increased during the 2021/22 financial year.
The council dealt with 743 incidents of fly-tipping, fouling, littering or other incidents classed under “environmental protection” during the past financial year.
It dealt with 697 of those, or 93.8 per cent, within three working days and closed 598, which was 80.5 per cent, within three months.
That was an increase on 705 incidents in 2020/21 with 92.3 per cent, or 651, responded to within three days and 75.7 per cent, 534, closed within three months.
In 2019/20 there were a total of 448 incidents which had reduced from 484 and 478 the previous two years.
Mr Owen said: “We can see in 2021/22 the total number of incidents has increased I think that is due somewhat to more accurate recording of incidents but I think we can’t ignore a substantial increase.
“I think a lot more work was done at home during the Covid period, I think people took the opportunity to use their time wisely and do a lot more building work and we saw a lot more incidents (of fly tipping).”
Householders are free to leave their waste to be collected by the local authority, following its arrangements, as they can be confident it has a licence to carry household waste.