Residents could soon face an on-the-spot fine of up to £300 if their rubbish has been fly-tipped around Rickmansworth or Abbots Langley – even if they didn’t dump it there themselves.

Three Rivers District Council has been issuing ‘fixed penalty notices’ to those caught fly-tipping across the area since 2016.

But now – following a change in the law – they are planning to issue fines to the owners of the fly-tipped waste too.

That means residents who can’t prove they have taken all reasonable measures to ensure their rubbish is taken away by an authorised operator can now be fined by the council, without the need for a court prosecution.

The approach is designed to reduce the chances of waste ending up in the hands of those that could fly-tip it – or being dumped by the residents themselves.

It has already been backed by a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee – who agreed the fixed penalty notice should be £300 (reduced to £200 if paid within 10 days).

If it gets the go-ahead from a meeting of the full council it could be implemented very shortly.

Cllr Alex Michaels, lead member for environmental services, hopes the approach will cut fly-tipping even further and encourage residents to ask more questions before they hand their rubbish over to a third party.

“Fly-tipping has been a problem across the whole of Hertfordshire,” said Liberal Democrat Cllr Michaels.

“It can be people who leave bags of rubbish by the side of a bin in a park through to the dumping of fridges or sinks by the side of  road.

“We know financial penalties deter people. And this fine is a way to deal with it more effectively.”

According to the report to the policy and resources committee, a ‘fixed penalty notice’ provides an alternative to prosecution – by offering residents the chance to pay a fine and to avoid court proceedings.

The fines avoid the need for court proceedings – which can be costly to the councils – and means the resident avoids a criminal record.

“There is no obligation for the council to offer an alleged offender the option to discharge liability through an FPN,” says the report to the committee. “However, it can be more proportionate than prosecution through the courts.”

The report also outlines a number of circumstances in which the fines would not be implemented.

These include instances where waste was put out for local authority collection, where a tradesperson is responsible for the waste they produce, where a landlord clears a property at the end of a tenancy of where enforcement would hinder the investigation into a fly-tipper.

In addition the report says action would not be taken in cases involving vulnerable individuals.

Following the change in the legislation, the report says the introduction of the same fixed penalty notices are expected to be considered by each of the 10 local authorities in Hertfordshire.