Landowners and farmers must move away from a ‘reluctant acceptance’ that fly-tipping is part of their everyday lives and instead report incidents to the local council.
Will Kendrick of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB) said Defra’s suggestion of 3,274 fly-tipping incidents last year was just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ because farmers tended to ‘quietly deal with incidents without making a claim’.
He said the majority of private-land incidents had not been taken into account, with the average incident costing farmers about £1,000.
Mr Kendrick said: “Defra figures show that it is not only everyday household waste that gets dumped by fly-tippers – thousands of incidents involve asbestos, clinical waste and chemical and fuel waste.
“These fly-tippers, both thoughtless individuals and unscrupulous ‘waste businesses’, do not care that their irresponsible actions could lead to farmers being prosecuted under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
“Innocent farmers have the choice of footing the clean-up bill or facing significant fines for not dealing with someone else’s mess.”
With farm incomes expected to drop in 2019, largely due to the volatile weather and last summer’s drought, ‘fly-tipping only tightens this financial squeeze’, Mr Kendrick said.
But when considering prevention tools to deter would-be fly-tippers from targeting their land, farmers should look to secure fields with locked gates and physical barriers, such as earth mounds, boulders and tree trunks, and implement exterior lighting in strategic areas.
Cutting back hedges would be another good place to start.
Where waste has already been dumped, farmers must ensure they clear up the mess properly with details such as time, date and waste type – as well as photos – reported to the local council.
“In one such incident, a farmer was unwittingly branded a fly-tipper after falling victim to the crime,” Mr Kendrick said.
“After finding tyres dumped over his hedge, he moved them on to the other side of the hedgerow and informed the authorities.
“Although the waste was collected, he was slapped with a prosecution order for fly-tipping.”