Farmers, landowners and members of the public are being urged to be extra vigilant amidst a spike in fly-tipping caused by recycling centre closures and disrupted bin collection services.
Councils across the nation have closed down Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in response to the coronavirus lockdown and some have also scaled back rubbish collections due to reduced staff numbers.
Rural insurance specialist Lycetts is calling on farmers and landowners to take all necessary steps to protect their land, liaise closely with neighbours and ensure they have sufficient insurance cover in place should they fall victim to fly-tipping. Members of the public are also being encouraged to report any suspicious activity they witness to the police.
“At a time when farmers are working flat out to feed the nation ahead of the busy harvest months, they can ill-afford to contend with the costly and time-consuming burden of removing waste from their land,” said Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, Rural Divisional Director, Lycetts.
“Although the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has strengthened local authorities’ enforcement powers in recent years, the onus still lies with farmers and other private landowners to dispose of fly-tipped waste on their land. They can even be prosecuted if they fail to do so quickly enough.
“Despite pressure on government from organisations such as the Tenant Farmers Association and the Countryside Alliance, there are currently no plans to change the law.
“Although local authorities can investigate fly-tipping incidents on private land, and bring prosecutions when there is sufficient evidence, the Local Government Association has called for more funding to help them do so. The coronavirus pandemic has further intensified the pressure on stretched council resources.
“It can be difficult to prevent fly-tipping, but we should look to support each other as much as possible during these testing times by keeping a lookout and reporting incidents.”
Wailes-Fairbairn has also reminded farmers of the steps they can take to help deter those responsible, including ensuring that fields, particularly those which are roadside, are gated and locked where possible.
“Security lights and cameras at vulnerable locations throughout farms, and at entrance points hidden from view, can also be effective and help to provide crucial evidence should councils decide to investigate,” he added.
“Furthermore, farmers should consult with their insurance broker to see what cover is afforded to them in the event of an incident, particularly in the case of repeat offences. Many combined farm insurance policies will cover the cost of the cost of removal and disposal of fly-tipped waste – generally around £5,000 per incident and capped at £15,000.”
According to Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) statistics, 1,072,431 incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by local authorities in 2018/19, an eight per cent rise on the 998,000 in 2017-18.