Will Kendrick considers the impact of fly tipping
…and how risks can be mitigated.
From dumped tyres to discarded fridges, farmers up and down the country continue to grapple with the abhorrent business of flytipping.
Culprits of flytipping – from unscrupulous, unlicensed ‘waste’ businesses to homeowners – tend to think of it as a victimless crime but, as well as costing the taxpayers millions in clean-up costs, flytipping poses a significant threat to the environment and farmers’ livelihoods.
The recent change in the law, which sees any household that fails to pass their waste to a licensed carrier and whose waste is found fly-tipped face penalties of up to £400, is certainly welcomed.
But, as councils continue their crackdown on flytipping, farmers silently suffer, with little or no assistance or recourse.
Just under one million flytipping incidents were reported by local authorities to DEFRA last year, and of these, 3,274 were registered as taking place on agricultural land. But, as the majority of private-land incidents are not recorded, this is not a true reflection of the scale of flytipping on farmland.
Farmers are liable for clearing up the mess at their own expense or face prosecution.
In one such incident we have encountered, a farmer was unwittingly branded a flytipper after falling victim to the crime.
After finding tyres dumped over his hedge, he moved them on the other side of the hedgerow and informed the authorities. Although the waste was collected, he was slapped with a prosecution order for flytipping.
Although any farmer can fall victim, there are a number of preventative steps farmers can take to deter would-be flytippers from targeting their land.
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.
Flytippers 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 flytipping, 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 flytipping 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 flytipping.
Log all details, such as time, date and waste type, take photos and report the incident to your local council.
Most importantly, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly and use a reputable, registered waste company to help with disposal.
Prior to any incident, or if you encounter an incident, it is worth consulting with your insurance broker to see what cover is afforded to you.
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.