Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste or rubbish on private or council-owned land.
Dumping bags of household waste or bulky rubbish in the wrong place counts as fly-tipping. You’re also fly-tipping if you leave waste beside street bins, or outside your property.
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence. Investigations may lead to the council issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice of £400, or deciding to prosecute. The maximum court penalty is an unlimited fine and/or a five year custodial sentence.
When you report fly-tipping to the council, we’ll ask you to give us:
If you have them, please also include:
We aim to investigate most reports of fly-tipping on public land within five working days.
Any evidence you give us, such as descriptions or photographs, helps with our investigations. We may ask you to give a formal signed witness statement, which we will pass to our legal team.
If a fly-tipping case goes to court, your witness statement could be used as evidence, and you may have to attend court.
We may sometimes investigate waste dumped on private land, but we prioritise reports in public areas. This is because the council doesn’t have a duty to clear waste dumped on private or unadopted land — but we may sometimes contact the landowner to tell them to clear the rubbish.
Fly-tipping can have a negative impact on people’s day-to-day lives. If it’s not investigated and removed, fly-tipped waste can:
Householders have a duty of care to ensure that their household waste is properly disposed of and must take reasonable steps to prevent their waste from being fly-tipped.
If you have large items to get rid of (for example, a mattress or white goods) or excess rubbish,it’s important to dispose of it correctly and safely. If we find your waste fly-tipped, we may fine you.
Alternatively, you can find waste disposal companies online. The Environment Agency licenses waste carriers — you can check the company’s waste carrier licence number on the Environment Agency’s online register of waste carriers.
Approved carriers will show you their licence and tell you where they are taking your waste. They will also give you paperwork to show they are taking over the responsibility for your waste.
If you pay an unlicensed company or individual to remove your waste, you may still be liable for prosecution if they fly-tip your waste.
If you’re a business based in Reading, you still have a duty of care but there are different rules for getting rid of your rubbish. You can find out more on our commercial waste page – or on the recycling centre’s trade waste page.
Local authorities are required to report information on fly-tipping incidents and actions taken through Gov.uk statistical reporting which is published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.