Farmland fly-tipping figures are just the tip of the iceberg, say insurers
PUBLISHED: 13:34 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:17 10 April 2019
Almost 400 incidents of fly-tipping were recorded on agricultural land in the East of England last year - but insurance experts warned the true scale of the problem could be much worse.
Of the 72,832 reports of illegally dumped rubbish in the region last year, 386 incidents were on agricultural land, according to the latest fly-tipping statistics from Defra.
In Norfolk, the worst-hit districts were North Norfolk, with 34 agricultural incidents out of a total of 521, South Norfolk with 38 out of 836, and Great Yarmouth with 41 out of 6,407.
But Viv Vivers, of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB), said the true scale of the problem on East of England farmland is not reflected in the figures, which exclude the majority of cases on private land.
She said farmers who fall victim to this crime are responsible for meeting the cost of clearing rubbish from their land themselves – at an average cost of £1,000 per incident – and are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.
“Fly-tipping is a blight on our countryside, but dumped waste is not only visually impactful and a nuisance – it can be a source of pollution and cause harm to humans, animals and the environment,” she said.
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“This year’s 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.
“So, farmers are not only have to fork out for clean-up costs but also have to worry about the danger it poses to themselves, their workers, their animals and their land.
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“These fly-tippers, both thoughtless individuals and unscrupulous ‘waste businesses’, don’t 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.
“Incomes in the farming sector are forecast to drop this year, due largely to the volatile weather, including last summer’s drought. Fly-tipping only tightens this financial squeeze.”
The firm advised farmers to communicate with neighbours, report suspicious vehicles to the authorities, and deter would-be fly-tippers by ensuring that fields, particularly those which are by the roadside, are gated and locked where possible.
If a fly-tipping incident is discovered, farmers are advised to be cautious of any potential hazardous waste, record as much detail as possible, take photos, collect evidence and report the incident to their local council.