What should I do about fly-tipping on my farmland?

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For landowners, fly-tipping is more than just a blot on the landscape – it is also a costly and frustrating problem. Julie Liddle assesses what is being done and offers some tips to prevent fly-tipping.

Farmers and landowners are demanding urgent government action to clamp down on the rising tide of fly-tipping. However, the signals coming out of Whitehall have been mixed.

Estimates from the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group suggest that the clean-up cost for fly-tipping on private land could be as much as £150m a year. Meanwhile, a Farmers Weekly survey revealed that two in three farmers and landowners are blighted by fly-tippers.

Although local authorities will clear up fly-tipping on public land, they often refuse to remove it from private land, insisting it is the responsibility of landowner.

Why the government should take immediate action

It is a fact that unless farmers and landowners remove fly-tipped waste, they are also vulnerable to being criminally prosecuted for keeping it on their land.

With only one in 600 reported fly-tipping incidents resulting in a prosecution, many farmers and landowners simply clean up themselves without the extra – and probably futile – hassle of reporting it. The cost of this is shocking. On average, the clean-up bill per incident is £800 and 39 incidents were reported in 2016 by one CLA member alone.

Minister promises some help, but more is needed

It has been suggested to Defra that it adopt a four-point plan to tackle this growing issue. Suggested measures include: developing new ways to clear up fly-tipped waste and supporting victims; imposing more stringent penalties on people caught fly-tipping; fines for firms and homeowners whose rubbish is found in fly-tipped locations; and appointing a fly-tipping czar to promote multi-agency and landowner collaboration.

However, the response from Defra minister Dr Therese Coffey does not inspire complete confidence. Although the minister says Defra plans to implement most of the suggestions, she refuses to countenance free clean-up services for landowners, claiming that this would discourage them from securing their land against fly-tipping.

Five tips to swat the fly-tippers

Until any government action is taken, interested parties have said farmers and landowners can help themselves by taking a range of anti-fly-tipping steps. These include:

  1. Make physical improvements to entry points, such as fitting gates and barriers, placing logs across field entrances and improving visibility. Also, signage and CCTV can act as a deterrent – even if there’s no film in the camera.
  2. Work with your neighbours, local businesses and any existing partnerships to keep a lookout and report incidents.
  3. Beware of contaminated waste and make sure it is disposed of properly – failing to do so is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  4. Don’t shift fly-tipped waste from your land onto the roadside – this in itself is considered to be fly-tipping.
  5. Ask your local authority environmental services department if they operate a scheme to help with removing fly-tipped waste.