The number of fly-tipping incidents in England has dropped towards pre-pandemic levels while penalty notices have risen sharply, official figures have revealed.
A Government report showed local authorities dealt with 1.09 million incidents of dumped waste blighting highways and footpaths in 2021/2022, down 4% from 1.13 million during the pandemic in 2020/2021.
The decrease brings incident levels back towards pre-pandemic totals of 980,000. Incidents subsequently spiked during lockdown due to the temporary closure of household recycling centres.
Meanwhile, enforcement actions rose beyond pre-pandemic levels, reaching 507,000 incidents, an 11% increase compared with 465,000 in 2020/2021, while fixed penalty notices jumped by 58% to 91,000, compared with 57,700 issued the year before last.
Explaining the return to pre-Covid levels of fly-tipping and enforcement, the report said: “The first national lockdown introduced in March 2020 led to some local authorities being unable to maintain collections of dry recyclates, with some suspending garden and bulky waste collections.
“There was also a widespread closure of household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). HWRCs were later reopened following Government guidance on managing HWRCs in England during the Covid-19 pandemic but with some restrictions in place (e.g. booking system).
“These factors and other factors such as changes in household consumption, travel and leisure patterns may have contributed to the increases seen in the number of fly-tipping incidents reported for 2020/21.
London remained the most common area for fly-tipping, with 46 incidents per 1,000 people, a 7% increase from 2020/2021.
In comparison, the South West remained the cleanest region with just nine fly-tipping incidents per 1,000 people.
More than 40% of incidents involved rubbish dumped on roads and pavements, followed by 17% of fly-tipping taking place on council land such as housing estates, parks and car parks.
The majority of incidents involved household waste, but there was a 9% increase in those involving commercial waste and a 14% rise in dumping of single black bags.