Farmers and landowners are calling for stronger enforcement of legal action to help prevent an increase in fly-tipping which is blighting the countryside.

Figures released today show incidents of waste dumped illegally, which have been reported to and cleared by local authorities, have increase by four per cent, but action taking against culprits has fallen by four per cent.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, says the figures do not reflect the true scale of the crime because increasing reports of fly-tipping on private rural land are not included.

Ross Murray, CLA president, said: "These figures do not tell the full story of this disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside.

"Local authorities tend not to get involved with clearing incidences of fly-tipped waste from private land leaving the landowner to clean up and foot the bill.

“Our members have reported a big increase in fly-tipping on their land.

"It’s not just the odd bin bag but large household items from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.

“Farmers and landowners are forced to clear up somebody else’s rubbish or they risk prosecution for illegal storage of waste. This is simply not right or fair.

“Only when people see evidence of local authorities taking stronger action to combat the scourge of fly-tipping can we hope to see a reversal in this worrying trend.”

The CLA has called on local authorities, the Environment Agency and the police force to commit to stronger action against the increase of fly-tipping on private land.

This can be done by extending the local government zero tolerance approach to fly-tipping, ensuring powers to issue fixed penalty notices are used and by imposing and enforcing stronger penalties to act as a deterrent.

The CLA say farmers and landowners can go some way to preventing fly-tipped waste on their land by ensuring gates to gields are locked, opening up concealed entrances so they are more visible to passersby, using CCTV in black spots and reporting all instances to the local police force.