Illegal Tipping and Fly Tipping


Illegal tipping and fly tipping has always being a problem for local authorities in 2021 local authorities dealt with an estimated 1.13 million fly tipping incidents and increase from 2020 of 16%.

There are also cases where longer term fly tipping of an area has become a problem with areas that are remote being favoured for this illegal activity, wooded areas and remote back lanes adjoining farmers land has become the haunt of such activity, monitoring remote locations can be a problem due to connectivity and also coverage.

Fly tipping can quickly destroy an area of natural beauty or an area where walkers favour, most of illegal fly tipping is from residential properties, but equally some comes from industrial activities such as building and renovations where some toxic substances such as paint and other materials can be dumped having an adverse effect on the wildlife.


A large client contacted Iprosurv to asses the possibility of using drone technology to asses two sites one where travellers established themselves illegally and broken in to a secured site, on a commercial location and where facilitating the dumping of waste within the confines of the security fencing.

Fly tipping drone data

The site had previously been occupied by travellers who caused in excess of £100.000 pounds worth of damage and a cleanup bill in excess of £50.000.

A new occupation by another group of travellers who were starting to cause damage to the ground surrounding the unused offices, but had also broken into the office and caused damage inside and to the outside structure.

Traditional Methods

Traditional methods would be to monitor the situation with manned guards or cameras, manned guards can be expensive and are at risk of physical abuse when trying to carry out enforcement of any illegal activity, a more costly solution is permanently fixed cameras although these have their limitations with connectivity and can be damaged in remote areas, they can also become redundant once people know of the camera and move a few hundred meters to carry on the fly tipping activity.


With the ability to take off and land from a distance takes the need for personnel to endanger themselves on site, on this occasion the drone took off from remote location and flew over the site at irregular intervals or when a vehicle containing waste approached.

with the ability of zoom cameras the drone is able to read and record personnel and vehicle registration plates for later use by authorities.

Incorporating high power spotlights and thermal technology also enhances the capability of the drone.


Iprosurv drone fly tipping monitoring

A local authority had reported that a large amount of fly tipped rubbish was accumulating in a remote area of wooded countryside and the Local Authority wanted to know the scale of the problem which was reported to be over approximately 50 acres of heavily wooded land.

Traditional Methods

The traditional method would be for a team of personnel to walk the whole area and record images and notes on the ground, this is personnel intensive as it would not be safe for one person to complete the task on their own, it also can take a long time to navigate the whole site location.


Drones are able to cover a large amount of ground very quickly and record images and other data for interpretation from desktop or on the ground.

Iprosurv fly tipping monitoring

In this case we used the automated flight technology within the drone which allowed us to pre programme a flight path and then the drone would autonomously fly the planned gridded mission and take the relevant images.

Using this method the drone automatically controls the camera settings including angles and is able to take overlapped images to create one large images that can be analysed later on.

The data is also transferable to GIS software for accurate planning and volumetric calculations if required.


  • For the 2020/21 year, local authorities in England dealt with 1.13 million fly-tipping incidents, an increase of 16% from the 980,000 reported in 2019/20.
  • As in the previous year, just under two thirds (65%) of fly-tips involved household waste. Total incidents involving household waste were 737,000 in 2020/21, an increase of 16% from 635,000 incidents in 2019/20.
  • The most common place for fly-tipping to occur was on highways (pavements and roads), which accounted for over two fifths (43%) of total incidents in 2020/21, the same as in 2019/20. In 2020/21, the number of highway incidents was 485,000, which was an increase of 16% from 419,000 in 2019/20.
  • The most common size category for fly-tipping incidents in 2020/21 was equivalent to a ‘small van load’ (34% of total incidents), followed by the equivalent of a ‘car boot or less’ (26%).
  • In 2020/21, 39,000 or 4% of total incidents were of ‘tipper lorry load’ size or larger, which is an increase of 16% from 33,000 in 2019/20. For these large fly-tipping incidents, the cost of clearance to local authorities in England in 2020/21 was £11.6 million, compared with £10.9 million in 2019/20.
  • Local authorities carried out 456,000 enforcement actions in 2020/21, a decrease of 18,000 actions (4%) from 474,000 in 2019/20.
  • The number of fixed penalty notices issued was 57,600 in 2020/21, a decrease of 24% from 75,400 in 2019/20. This is the second most common action after investigations and accounted for 13% of all actions in 2020/21.
  • The number of court fines issued decreased by 51% from 2,672 to 1,313 in 2020/21, with the value of total fines decreasing to £440,000 (a decrease of 62% on the £1,170,000 total value of fines in 2019/20).

The 2020/21 reporting period covers the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 re-opened 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.


In both cases the media was delivered to the client within 72 hours from instruction to completion and data delivery.

Case Example 1 resulted in the leaving of the travellers and also the successful delivery of data that could be used for prosecution.

The client was able from the data be able to make a cost estimate for cleanup and also arrange for extra security and cameras to be deployed to site.

Case example 2 is an ongoing case and will take approximately 3 years to assess cleanup and plan added security, due to the drone flying an automated mission the same flight plan can be flown every month with the same results so the client can monitor the illegal fly tipping.


Cost saving on the two cases were the reduction of personnel required on site to gather information, there was also the benefit of keeping personnel safe on site.