NFU Comment: Let’s work together to clean up the countryside

NFU Suffolk county adviser Rachel Carrington would like to see a combined effort to tackle the problem of fly tipping. NFU Suffolk county adviser Rachel Carrington would like to see a combined effort to tackle the problem of fly tipping.

Rachel Carrington, NFU Suffolk county adviser
Sunday, April 27, 2014
6:00 AM

Now the days are longer and the sun is making a more regular appearance, it is a great time to get out and about and enjoy our beautiful countryside. But one thing that winds us all up is coming across a load of rubbish dumped on the verge, in a layby or up a farm track or footpath. Not only is fly tipped material unsightly, spoiling our communities and the quality of life for local residents, but it is costly to remove, it can pollute watercourses and contaminate land and it can be dangerous to humans and animals.

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For farmers and landowners it can be particularly annoying because they have to pay for the removal of fly tipped waste themselves and the cost can be considerable. There were over 711,000 incidents of fly tipping last year in England and around two thirds of farmers have experienced problems.

One farmer near Newmarket reported that he had rubbish dumped at least five or six times a year, often along grass margins that are part of this environmental stewardship scheme. He has had building materials, garden rubbish and hazardous waste including asbestos dumped, all of which he has had to pay to dispose of. Often the quantities involved can be significant. A farmer in Essex had 80 tonnes of assorted waste dumped on his land that cost £10,000 to clear up. And as with most things, those doing the dumping are finding new and more ingenious ways to offload their rubbish. A livestock farmer recently found what he thought to be a number of wrapped bales of silage left on a concrete pad near his farm. On closer investigation he found that they all contained household waste!

The NFU regularly reminds our members to report all fly-tipping incidents to local councils. This helps to increase awareness and understanding of the scale of the problem, and also helps to obtain successful enforcement outcomes. We also promote the practical steps that can be taken to prevent being targeted, such as installing barriers and gates, improving visibility including lighting, and appropriate signage because what we really want to see is a reduction in the amount of waste being fly-tipped.

In 2013, the Suffolk Waste Partnership was awarded over £28,000 funding from Defra to develop a campaign, branded “Tip-Off – Stop Fly Tipping in Suffolk” to help improve the prevention, reporting, investigation and clearing of fly tipped waste. A year-long pilot saw the formation of the Suffolk Fly Tipping Action Group, with representation from local authorities and enforcement agencies and the NFU and CLA. A number of stop and search events took place, designed to target and prosecute illegal waste carriers who collect waste from unsuspecting householders and then fly tip it. The group also provided a guide for householders, businesses and landowners on preventing and reporting illegal waste dumping and produced a 90 second video “Tripping up the Tippers” which had over 50,000 viewings on YouTube within the first few weeks.

It was really designed to make householders think about how they dispose of rubbish and to be sure that anyone that they allow to take their waste is going to dispose of it legally and safely. Good progress was made and the group has decided to continue to meet to keep up the momentum. From a farming point of view, the majority of farmers and landowners take great pride in the land that they farm and look after and it is not just the cost involved that winds them up, but the damage that it does to the environment and the local landscape.

To coincide with the Easter break, the NFU launched a “Love your Countryside” poster campaign to help raise awareness of this anti-social problem. It highlights some key messages about how to get rid of your rubbish safely and what to do if you see fly tipped waste in your area.

If you would like to find out more then please contact Rachel Carrington, Suffolk County Adviser on Tel 01638 672112 or Rachel.carrington@nfu.org.uk

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