The latest fly-tipping figures have revealed an increase in incidents in England – but these statistics just scratch the surface of the problem for farmers.
New figures from Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) showed that 1,072,431 incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by local authorities in the past year, an 8% rise on the 998,000 in 2017-18.
Of the one million incidents, 3,395 were reported as taking place on agricultural land last year – 121 more incidents than the previous year.
But Lycetts director Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn said these figures are the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as the DEFRA statistics exclude the majority of private-land incidents.
“Fly-tipping is a blight on our countryside,” said Rupert. “The true scale of fly-tipping on England’s farmland is not reflected in these figures, as most of the private-land incidents go unreported – these latest figures just scratch the surface.
“Incidents are often dealt with quietly by the victims and at their own expense.
“Fly-tipping is most certainly not a victimless crime and farmers are having to redirect much needed time and resources into cleaning up after these incidents, which is putting untold strain and stress on the community.”
According to the latest National Rural Crime Network, fly-tipping is now the most common crime experienced by ‘specific rural business owners’, mainly farmers.
For victims of fly-tipping the average financial impact to the business owner was over £1,000 a time.
Rupert outlined a number of steps farmers can take to deter would-be fly-tippers from targeting their land – and outlined what to do if they fall victim.
- Ensure that fields, particularly those by the roadside, are secure, with locked gates where possible and create physical barriers, such as earth mounds, boulders and tree trunks, around the perimeter so that vehicles cannot gain access.
- Fly-tippers do not wish to draw attention to themselves, so ensure good visibility, by cutting back hedges and installing exterior lighting in strategic areas.
- Forewarned is forearmed, so talk to your neighbours and report suspicious vehicles to authorities.
- If you witness someone in the act of fly-tipping, do not approach them as this can pose a safety risk. Instead, immediately call 999 and make a note the number of people involved, descriptions, details about the waste, and information about any vehicles used, such as makes and models of the vehicles and registrations, if it is safe to do so from a distance.
- If you fall victim to a fly-tipping incident, be cautious, as the waste could be potentially hazardous.
- Thousands of the DEFRA incidents reported this year included asbestos, clinical, and chemical waste – and we have seen claims for asbestos and commercial refrigerator waste, which need specialist treatment, being dumped on farms.
- Secure the waste, so that animals and the public are not exposed to potentially dangerous material, and also to discourage further fly-tipping.
- Log all details, such as time, date and waste type, take photos and report the incident to your local council.
- Make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly and use a reputable, registered waste company to help with disposal.
Finally, and most importantly, check with your broker to ensure you have sufficient protection.
Most farm combined policies will cover the cost of removal and disposal, less an excess, which can help soften the blow of falling victim to this crime.