Farm insurance expert warns of hidden cost of fly-tipping to landowners

Fly-tipping in Oulton Broad. Photo: Nick Butcher.

Fly-tipping in Oulton Broad. Photo: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Archant © 2010

An agricultural expert warned of the 'hidden cost' of fly-tipping, after it was revealed that East Anglian councils spent more than £4m cleaning up illegally-dumped waste in just 12 months.

Defra figures revealed 75,447 fly-tipping incidents were reported by local authorities in the region between April 2016 and March 2017 – an increase of 8.6pc on the previous year.

The clean-up cost to taxpayers in the East of England totalled £4,339,536, including £958,875 spent in Norfolk and £470,443 in Great Yarmouth alone, which had the region's highest bill for fly-tipping clearance.

But William Nicholl, head of Fakenham-based insurance specialist Lycetts' rural division, warned that these figures are not a true reflection of the cost of fly-tipping, as they only account for council land, not private land.

Farmers who fall prey 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. They are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.

Mr Nicholl said: 'Farmers are well aware of this issue and are saddened by the visual impact it has on the countryside they maintain, as well as it being a nuisance and inconvenience when trying to get on with their normal, daily jobs.

'However, I don't think that farmers are as aware that, should they fail to deal with incidences of fly-tipping on their land and it leads to environmental damage, they could be held liable under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

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'With many authorities looking at introducing charges for bulky waste and organic waste collections and charging for dumping waste at council-run tips, there is a fear that fly-tipping incidents on farmland will increase.'

Mr Nicholl said despite the increase in fly-tipping incidents, a relatively small number of farmers make insurance claims for fly-tipping, as many have the equipment and manpower to deal with it.

But he said farmers unfortunate enough to have a fly-tipping hotspot on their land could see mounting costs which could put their business 'in jeopardy' – so they should take action to prevent it.

'Be vigilant, communicate with neighbours and report suspicious vehicles to the authorities,' he said.

'Deter would-be fly-tippers by ensuring that fields, particularly those which are roadside, are gated and locked where possible. If the problem persists, consider setting up security lights and a camera. This will help provide crucial evidence should the council decide to investigate.

'Finally, and most importantly, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly. By failing to remove the waste or moving it on to public land, you will leave yourself open to prosecution and could face fines of tens of thousands of pounds.'