Official farmland fly-tipping figures on rise for East of England - but 'most' go unreported
PUBLISHED: 09:34 29 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:34 29 November 2019
Farmland flytipping is on the rise across the East of England - but farmers continue to "suffer in silence", according to experts.
The region's farmers officially suffered 408 incidents of flytipping in 2018/19 out of a region-wide total of 67,792, according to latest statistics.
Suffolk and north Essex were among the areas hit, with 13 farm-related incidents in Babergh, 22 in Braintree, three in Forest Heath, 13 in Mid Suffolk, nine in St Edmundsbury, 11 in Suffolk Coastal, 11 in Uttlesford and 34 in Waveney in a 12 month period.
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But an agricultural expert warned that the real figures were much higher, following the release of the statistics by Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
They showed a 6% rise to 408 incidents compared to 386 recorded across the region's councils in the previous year.
Viv Vivers, of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB), warned the figures did not reflect the full scale of the problem for the region's farmers, as most cases on private land go unreported - with victims left to foot the clean-up bill.
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"Flytipping is a scourge on the farming community and their plight is not reflected in these figures as they exclude the majority of private-land incidents," said Ms Vivers.
"Councils spend millions every year on clean-up costs but private land-owners, such as farmers, are suffering in silence with little or no assistance or recourse.
"The burden of dumped rubbish falling squarely with farmers as they are liable for clearing it up at their own expense, or face prosecution. Moving the mess on to public land will not solve the issue, but exacerbate it, which farmers need to be mindful of.
"In one incident we encountered, a farmer was unwittingly branded a flytipper after falling victim to the crime.
"After finding tyres dumped over his hedge, he moved them on the other side of the hedgerow and informed the authorities. Although the waste was collected, he was slapped with a prosecution order for flytipping.
"Farmers are already faced with a myriad of difficulties, from economic uncertainty to market volatility, and having to fork out dealing with someone else's mess just compounds these stresses."
Flytipping is now the most common crime experienced by 'specific rural business owners', mainly farmers, according to the latest National Rural Crime Network, with victims footing an average £1k bill per incident.