Fly-tipping is a scourge of the community and a crime all councils are keen to clamp down on.
Despite their best efforts, Greater Manchester councils have seen 93,629 fly-tipping incidents reported between 2020 and 2022. According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) data, five boroughs saw a reduction in 2021/2022 compared to the previous year but five saw an increase.
GM areas provided a large chunk of the total 128,426 incidents recorded across the north west in 2021/22 – down from 140,220 in the previous year.
As well as posing significant and environmental health risks, fly-tipping can be a legal and financial burden. Local authorities are usually left to clean up the mess left by fly-tippers, which means the taxpayer is picking up the bill for people too lazy to dispose of their rubbish properly.
DEFRA data estimates it costs on average £1,000, and £10,000 for large-scale incidents to clean up. Most councils use fines as enforcement action and have taken people to court over the matter.
Here is how each GM borough ranks in terms of total fly-tipping incidents between the start of 2020 and the end of 2022 and an individual breakdown of data:
Manchester – 28,890
Rochdale – 11,583
Salford – 11,190
Tameside – 9,165
Oldham – 7,475
Stockport – 7,153
Bury – 6,631
Trafford – 6,037
Wigan – 3,071
Bolton – 2,434
The borough saw a reduction in fly-tipping incidents across the two years. In 2021/22 they had 1,184 reports, which is slightly down from the previous year at 1,250.
The council did not respond to the request for a comment.
This northern GM borough has been tough on fly-tippers where possible, with eight court convictions in the past 18 months being recorded. Despite this, they have seen a slight increase in incidents.
In 2021/22 they had 3,323 reports, which is slightly up from the previous year at 3,308.
A spokesman for Bury Council said: “Fly-tipping and littering is disgraceful. It blights our neighbourhoods, and costs local taxpayers money to clear it up.
“We know how much this matters to residents, which is why we have increased our enforcement action against the perpetrators. In the last 18 months, we have issued 36 fines for littering and 50 fines for fly tipping, and eight offenders were prosecuted through the courts.
“If residents witness incidents of fly tipping, or have any information about who is doing this, we would urge them to contact us with all the details they have so that we can take action.”
It is no surprise to see the most populated borough top the list for total fly-tipping incidents. However, Manchester has seen a significant reduction in number over the two year period – something the council puts down to their no-hesitation response to take action against crooks.
In 2021/22 they had 13,999 reports, which is down from the previous year at 14,891.
Coun Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods at Manchester City Council, said: “Fly-tipping is an environmental crime that blights neighbourhoods and green spaces not just across Manchester but across Greater Manchester and beyond. Our figures fell by six per cent in Manchester which is broadly in line with the trend in the Northwest and exceeds the national figure, but we are not complacent and take this crime very seriously and will continue to work hard to deter fly-tippers.
“When we find evidence to identify culprits, we will not hesitate to take enforcement action.”
The area with the highest spike in incident numbers in the region has seen a dramatic rise in reports. This is something Oldham Council put down to a recent clean up campaign labelled ‘Don’t Trash Oldham’.
In 2021/22 they had 5,903 reports, which is a huge increase as the previous year stood at 1,572 incidents.
Councillor Hannah Roberts, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods with Oldham Council, said: “Oldham, like boroughs across the country, suffers from fly-tipping. However, thanks to Don’t Trash Oldham, we are being proactive about tackling the issue through support, education and enforcement.
“Since we launched the clean up campaign, more than 508 people have been fined for environmental crimes. The number of cases in Oldham has increased, but the large spike seen in the figures from the year 2020/21 to 2021 /22 is as a result of underreporting of fly-tipping incidents to Central Government – where evidence could not be found in 20/21 these are now included in 21/22.
“This has now been corrected so the 2021/22 figure and all submitted in the future accurately show all fly-tipping incidents reported within the borough.”
The town at the north-east edge of the GM map has put their high numbers down to their system recording incidents twice due to multiple callouts to the same area. Rochdale Council’s approach to dealing with the issue is through education and fines.
In 2021/22 they had 6,241 reports, which is an increase on the previous year at 5,342.
A Rochdale Council spokesperson said: “There has been a small increase in fly-tipping figures reported, but the actual amount of tonnages collected has reduced by more than 32 tonnes from the previous year. This reduction has had a positive impact and meant we have spent less on disposal costs.
“The figures reported are also due to our rapid response and proactive work in removing fly-tipping. We can often respond to a small fly-tip, then additional waste is added to the same location, resulting in the same fly-tip being reported twice.
“We work extremely hard in educating our residents on the importance of checking for waste carriers’ licences and promoting the council’s free bulky waste collections, which has made a huge impact on the amount of potential waste that could have ended up on our streets. We continue to charge offenders by serving formal cautions and on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) when evidence is found, as we will not tolerate fly-tipping in our borough.”
The city borough has clarified their numbers increase is down to a clearer method of reporting incidents. They are in solidarity with other councils with a zero-tolerance approach to this crime.
In 2021/22 they had 6,020 reports, which increased from the previous year at 5,170.
A spokesman for Salford City Council said: “The rise reflected the introduction of new ways of reporting fly tipping which can now be done via social media as well as online and by phone. All incidents are investigated and appropriate action taken.
“There is no excuse for fly-tipping and those who do know full well they are spoiling their community and wasting public money.”
Stockport’s ‘Spring Clean’ programme is clearly working for them as they have seen a decline in incidents over the last two years. The council have thanked community groups in the area who have helped in reducing the ‘blight’ that is fly-tipping.
In 2021/22 they had 3,157 reports, which decreased from the previous year at 3,996.
Coun Helen Foster-Grime, Cabinet Member for Communities & Housing at Stockport Council, said: “Fly-tipping is a blight on our community and a criminal offence. It undermines the ability of our residents to live and work in a clean and safe environment.
“It’s heartening to see a reduction in the number of fly-tipping incidents, but there are still too many people not disposing of their rubbish in the correct way with many being duped by unscrupulous fly tippers. The council is currently leading on a ‘Spring Clean’ programme with additional organised clean up events and activities across Stockport, over March and April.
“Our teams will work on tidying up District and Local Centres, parks and greenspaces, removing graffiti and collecting waste, while being supported by superb local parks’ ‘Friends of’ groups, schools and other outstanding volunteer groups. The campaign aims to spruce up the borough further and highlight some of the great work that takes place around the clock to ensure our residents and visitors can enjoy the clean and safe environment they rightly deserve.
“If residents are aware of a case of fly-tipping, they can report it by using the Council’s online form https://www.stockport.gov.uk/start/report-a-fly-tipping-issue.”
The eastern borough has seen a big reduction of incidents over the last two years. They have set up the Fly Tipping Enforcement Unit to deal with incidents of illegal dumping in the borough.
Their duties consist of enforcement, including prosecution of anyone found fly-tipping in Tameside and education.Educating people involves showing the real costs of fly-tipping to the community, the environment and council tax payers.
In 2021/22 they had 4,102 reports, which is down from the previous year at 5,063. Tameside Council did not respond with a comment on fly-tipping.
The council in Trafford is working with other agencies to crack down on fly-tippers and even increased the cost of their fines. They also work with local schools to educate youngsters on this issue.
In 2021/22 they had 2,521 reports, which is a decrease from the previous year at 3,516.
A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “Trafford Council is working hard alongside partners including Greater Manchester Police, housing providers and other agencies to tackle the blight of fly-tipping within our communities. Environmental enforcement officers and staff from One Trafford are also working closely to identify hot-spots to allow us to target fly-tippers.
“We also have a dedicated telephone line (0161 912 4152) to report fly-tippers and have increased our fixed penalty notices for those caught from £200 to £400. We are also working closely with schools, local businesses and the local community to highlight our key messages to reduce littering, fly-tipping and increase recycling. We are pleased with the decrease in the number of fly-tipping incidents but will continue to work hard to bring the figures down even further.”
The area known for their love of pies have been left “disappointed” by these statistics but are keen to “create a cleaner, greener borough for us all to enjoy”. The council is all too aware of the cost of dealing with this ‘community blight’ in a time where money is tight for local authorities.
In 2021/22 they had 2,130 reports, which is up from the previous year at 941.
Paul Barton, director of environment at Wigan Council, said: “We are very disappointed that we have seen an increase in fly-tipping – a criminal offence which blights our environment and is expensive to clean up. We all have a part to play in tackling this issue to create a cleaner, greener borough for us all to enjoy.
“The reasons behind this vary – from lack of knowledge, apathy and illegal activity and we saw this rise begin in the pandemic, but it has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis too. We are pleased to see that this trend is now decreasing again. Tackling this issue is a key priority for us at Wigan Council.
“Our litter prevention strategy was recently approved by the cabinet and seeks to educate, support those vulnerable to fly-tipping as well as prosecute those who break the law. We also urge residents to be aware of small businesses advertising on social media who claim to remove rubbish and we encourage those using such services to be vigilant and check the company has the relevant waste licences in places, as well as requesting waste transfer notes.
“If any of our residents spot an incident of environmental crime, we ask that you send us as much information as you can, including descriptions of the perpetrator, vehicle registrations or home addresses where possible so we can take action.”