MORE than 200 agricultural flytipping incidents were reported to South West councils last year.

According to the latest stats from DEFRA, out of the 56,563 incidents in the region last year, 247 were reported on agricultural land.

Farmers who fall prey to this crime are having to shoulder the burden, 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.

However, Will Kendrick of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB) said that this is just the “tip of the iceberg”. He said that the true scale of flytipping on South West farmland is not reflected in the figures as the DEFRA statistics exclude the majority of private-land incidents.

Kendrick, who advises farmers in the South West on the subject, said: “Flytipping 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.

“This year’s DEFRA figures show that it is not only everyday household waste that gets dumped by flytippers – thousands of incidents involve asbestos, clinical waste and chemical and fuel waste.

“So, farmers 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.

“These flytippers, 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.”

Kendrick stressed the importance of having sufficient protection for farming businesses, particularly in the case of repeat offences. Many combined farm insurance policies cover the cost of flytipping – generally around £5,000 per incident and capped at £15,000.

“In our experience, there is a reluctant acceptance by farmers that flytipping is part of their everyday lives, and they quietly deal with incidents without making a claim,”, said Kendrick.

“But if farmers are unfortunate enough to have a flytipping ‘hotspot’ on their land, costs soon tot up and their business could be put in jeopardy".

How farmers can help protect themselves against flytippers

  • Be vigilant: communicate with neighbours and report suspicious vehicles to the authorities
  • Consult with your insurance broker to see what cover is afforded to you in the event of an incident.
  • Deter would-be flytippers by ensuring that fields, particularly those which are roadside, are gated and locked where possible.

If you fall victim to a flytipping incident, be cautious, as the waste could be hazardous. Record as much detail as possible, take photos and report the incident to your local council. 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, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly and, if required, use a reputable, registered waste company to help with disposal. 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.