Letter to COSLA on flytipping

General News

Scottish Land & Estates has written to COSLA, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, to highlight our concerns about the increase in flytipping during lockdown. In recent correspondence with council leaders we have also seen a real divergence in how each local authority is responding the flytipping, and we have called on their support for a Scotland-wide support. 

Letter to COSLA:

Dear Ms Loudon,

I am writing to you with urgent concerns about a worrying increase in flytipping and to seek your support for a coordinated Scotland-wide response to tackling this issue.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, and the Scottish Government and local authorities has quite rightly taken urgent action on a number of fronts to prioritise and protect public health. Some of these actions have, however, led to unintended consequences. As you will know, in order to maintain essential services and respect social distancing rules, local authorities and private contractors have been forced to temporarily reduce or suspend some services. This has, however, led to an unfortunate increase in flytipping incidents and there is now a backlog of flytipped waste that is needing to be disposed of.

Landowners are left to bear the responsibility and cost of the clean-up, which can often extend to thousands of pounds and in the process, creating financial problems for businesses already suffering in this pandemic. 

We welcome the decision made by Scottish councils to reopen and allow safe and responsible access to Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) on 1 June, and hope this will go some way to alleviating the problem. 

Over the past week we have written to all 32 Local Authorities to seek their support for landowners and farmers who have been impacted by flytipping while lockdown measures have been in place. We are asking local authorities to allow private landowners, who did not cause or knowingly permit flytipping, priority access to their local HWRC and to be able to dispose of the waste free of charge. In addition to this, we would like to see, where feasible and resources allow, local authorities offer support by uplifting flytipping from private land as long as it is reasonably near public land. 

Council leaders have been quick to respond, which is greatly appreciated, however their responses have highlighted a further issue; the approach to dealing with flytipping and the rules around disposal varies greatly between local authorities. 

This disparity in approach not only creates confusion amongst farmers, landowners and rural business owners, but it also creates an unfair situation where someone may be charged to dispose of illegal flytipped waste while their neighbour can dispose of it free of charge, simply because they live in different council areas.

At a time when farmers and rural businesses are working harder than ever to produce vital food supplies, protect the environment and support jobs in their local communities, this is an unnecessary burden to deal with.  

I firmly believe the measures set out above will help landowners, farmers and rural businesses during these unprecedented times deal with the unnecessary burden of flytipping in a manner which is empathetic, fair and proportionate. 

We are in discussions with SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland, who are both fully aware of the challenges, about the need for a Scotland-wide approach to tackling flytipping.  

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you further as a matter of urgency. I have attached a series of flytipping examples from across Scotland of the impacts experienced by our members’ businesses at the bottom of this letter.

I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience. 


Yours sincerely,

Sarah-Jane Laing
Chief Executive

Download our letter to COSLA here. 

View our support page on flytipping.