Farming opinion: Tackling countryside scourge of flytipping

A fly-tipping incident. Picture: CHRIS BISHOP

A fly-tipping incident. Picture: CHRIS BISHOP - Credit: Archant

Fly-tipping is a menace that is blighting the countryside and the lives of those who live and work in it. The CLA launched a campaign last August to highlight this often-ignored problem. Statistics have shown that it isn’t a small issue, with more than a million incidents of fly-tipping in 2016-2017.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East regional director Ben Underwood.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East regional director Ben Underwood. - Credit: Archant

The CLA’s five-point plan for fly-tipping brought together many of the issues that need to be addressed such as suitable penalties, the sharing of best practice information, homeowner liability for waste and how it should be removed.

One of the largest frustrations felt by landowners and farmers is that the penalties handed out to those caught fly-tipping do not reflect the seriousness of the damage caused to land. With only one in 600 incidents of fly-tipping leading to a prosecution, and the most common punishment being a fixed penalty fine of less than £400. This is simply not good enough, especially when the average cost to clean up a fly-tipping incident is £800, and it can be much more than this.

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer wrote to environment minister and Suffolk MP Thérèse Coffey on the topic, highlighting the five-point plan and the injustice that victims of fly-tipping face. A key point is that landowners affected by a fly-tipping incident can currently be subject to prosecution if the waste is not removed quickly enough. The CLA is advocating that if the landowner removes the waste from their land, they should then be able to dispose of it free of charge at a local authority disposal site.

The reply was disappointing as the minister said that allowing landowners the ability to remove fly-tipped waste from their land free of charge would encourage more dumping of waste. The minister was however more receptive on how best practice among farmers and landowners should be shared in order to reduce the number of incidents.

In November a debate in Westminster highlighted the difficulties faced by rural communities such as the reduction in local council waste facilities, the lack of police interest and the unclear guidelines of who an incident should be reported to.

Within this debate the work of the CLA on the issue, was praised but this is only a small step and work on this issue is far from complete as many of problems around waste crime still remain.

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This month the CLA is hosting an event in Westminster hosted by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee chair Neil Parish MP (Tiverton and Honiton), along with Therese Coffey, to bring together MPs and stakeholders to share best practice and directly inform politicians about the nuisance and costs incurred by fly-tipping.

If you have suffered from fly-tipping on private land, we would urge you to write to your local MP about the problem. If politicians do not know about the problem and how it affects landowners, they are unlikely to understand the extent and impact of this crime.

The CLA’s 5 point plan to tackle fly-tipping

? Impose and enforce penalties which better reflect the seriousness of the crime – seizure of vehicles must be the default penalty to send a clear signal that criminals will face damaging consequences if they are caught fly-tipping.

? Enforce fines for home and business owners whose waste is found in fly-tipped locations – to act as a deterrent and encourage waste disposal through legal channels.

? Appoint a national ‘Fly-Tipping Tsar’ – whose responsibilities would include co-ordinating with national agencies in tackling serious organised criminal gangs.

? Develop new ways to clear up and support victims - introduce a new scheme to allow any private landowner who did not cause or knowingly permit the fly-tipping to dispose of it at a waste disposal site free of charge.

? Promote education and working in partnership - share best practice advice to landowners on how to reduce the chance of being a victim of fly-tipping and showcase excellent examples of local partnerships including shared CCTV monitoring schemes, Countryside Watch and post-incident intelligence sharing.