Farmers and landowners should be compensated for damage caused by people using public access rights to their land, the Lords has heard, writes Trevor Mason.

Peers called for financial help to combat hazards caused by fly-tipping, vandalism and littering.

But the Government indicated that there was already legal penalties in place to tackle the problems and urged better enforcement.

The call for compensation came in a committee stage debate on the Agriculture Bill, which sets out a new support policy as the UK quits the EU-wide Common Agricultural Policy.

It came after a series of high-profile cases where daytrippers left large amounts of litter at well-known beauty spots as the coronavirus lockdown was eased.

The Bill allows financial assistance to be paid for supporting public access to the countryside.

But Tory former minister the Earl of Caithness said this should be coupled with a right to compensation for damage and additional costs incurred.

Lord Caithness warned that if the Government wasn’t careful, it would start to “alienate” the farming community.

“We have all seen the dreadful amount of detritus left on recent visits to the countryside and parks – the glass, the laughing gas canisters, the soiled nappies, the plastic bags and every other sort of rubbish.”

He said such litter was a hazard for animals as well as being an “ugly sight” for humans and its removal cost a lot of money.

The peer also highlighted problems caused by dog-fouling, fly-tipping and fires caused by disposable barbecues as he called for on-the-spot fines.

Read more: 'We beg you to stop': 18 fires in one day despite warnings against BBQs and bonfires

Tory Lord Cormack complained of “squalor” left behind by visitors to Dorset recently and damage caused to an ancient oak by “irresponsible” barbecuing.

He called for compulsory education on the countryside code to make people aware of the need to look after the environment.

For the Government, Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist said she shared concerns about the cost of littering and “hideous” fly-tipping to landowners, farmers and local authorities.

But public access to the countryside provided a huge range of benefits and legislation was already in place to cover such offences.

She said it was vital that young people were taught about the environment and important that the countryside code promoted responsible behaviour.

Existing powers could be used by local authorities to combat the problems and the Government was committed to increasing the penalties for fly-tipping.

The key was better enforcement, Lady Bloomfield told the Lords.