Clearing up after flytippers cost district and borough councils in West Sussex at least £1m between them over a six-year period.
Data from DEFRA – the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – showed that between 2012/13 and 2017/18, the seven councils responded to almost 27,000 cases.
These included the dumping of everything from fridges to animal carcasses to asbestos.
As these were only reported cases, the actual figure is likely higher.
The DEFRA figures didn’t include the clear-up costs for 2017/18 but, for the previous five years, it totalled £983,185.
Crawley proved to be the West Sussex hot-spot for flytipping, with 8,512 cases costing at least £257,038 to clear.
Next was Arun with 4,565 cases costing at least £109,268, Chichester 4,126/ £174,700, Horsham 3,612/£155,145, Worthing 2,216/£65,338, Mid Sussex 2,010/£149,186 and Adur 1,936/£72,510.
With West Sussex County Council deciding to look into whether or not to charge for the disposal of household DIY waste, there have been concerns that flytipping could increase.
A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “It may have an impact on individuals who want to do the right thing by disposing of waste properly and those that may capitalise by offering to remove waste at a charge but end up flytipping instead of taking it to a Household Waste Recycling Site.”
Arun District Council said it would ‘remain vigilant’ when it came to combating and reducing flytipping, adding: “We rely on information from the public, as part of this work, and would encourage residents to continue to pass on any relevant information they have.”
A spokesman for Chichester District Council said: “Our priority is to work with residents and businesses to try and tackle flytipping, which is unsightly, poses an environmental risk, and clearing it up is a huge cost to our local taxpayers.
“We have launched the next stage of our Against Litter campaign, which focuses on flytipping and advises residents and businesses what they can do to help us tackle this problem.”
The mooted changes set off alarms with CLA South East, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the county.
Regional director Robin Edwards said: “Much good work is being done in the county to tackle the scourge of flytipping, but introducing charges for disposing of items such as rubble and plasterboard is unlikely to help in the war against dumped waste.”
Mr Edwards said the number of cases across Sussex was rising and added: “It would be very disappointing if the numbers were to grow even bigger as a result of any new fees.
“The council says it is considering these changes because of financial pressures, which to an extent is understandable. However, it would be self-defeating if it is then forced to spend more money dealing with flytipping incidents.”
The DEFRA figures also included the action taken by each council to deal with people who dump their rubbish – from issuing warning notices to taking legal action.
One such case saw Horsham District Council work with Sussex Police to come down hard on a Crawley man who dumped timber, plastic bags and rubble at Holmbush Farm, Faygate.
After pleading guilty to illegal flytipping, he found himself rather out of pocket having to pay a fine of £55, a £32 victim surcharge and £500 of council costs.
Philip Circus, cabinet member for environment, waste and recycling said: “The district council has a zero tolerance approach to environmental crime such as flytipping and as this successful conviction proves we will actively pursue offenders and prosecute them accordingly.”
He added: “We openly encourage the general public to report any instances to us so that our enforcement team can investigate them.”
A county council spokesman said: “Flytipping is both criminal and antisocial and there is no excuse for it regardless of the policy of the local authority to charge for DIY waste at Household Waste Recycling Sites.
“The majority of larger scale flytipping is perpetrated by rogue traders who are not permitted to use sites provided by local authorities for householders anyway.
“Flytipping has been on the increase nationally in recent years regardless of the charging policy at HWRSs. Those who perpetrate it risk large fines or imprisonment if convicted.
“Householders can avoid unwittingly contributing to flytipping by ensuring that if they pay anyone to take waste away, they are a reputable company or local trader with a Waste Carrier’s Licence.
“Householders in such situations have a duty of care over the waste they produce even if handed over to another person and risk prosecution if the waste is not properly disposed of.”