Farmers and council join forces over fly-tip scourge

LANDOWNERS’ leaders have joined forces with Suffolk County Council in a bid to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the council are exploring ways to make it easier to remove fly-tipped waste from private land.

A new study by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) reveals that fly-tipping is on the increase, with farmers increasingly burdened with clean-up costs of up to �1,200.

A Government Summit on fly-tipping, chaired by Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach, took place on Thursday. The summit is a key commitment of the Government’s response to recommendations by the Farming Regulation Task Force to cut red tape and brought organisations across all sectors together to galvanise support for regional action on fly-tipping

The CLA-Suffolk County Council partnership aims to solve waste issues at a local level building on the work Suffolk County Council has already undertaken on tackling trade waste.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: “On average, it costs around �800 to deal with each incidence of non-toxic fly-tipped waste on private land. Although we would like to see waste taken to local tips free of charge, we understand this is unlikely without a change in the law. However, the partnership with Suffolk County Council should help identify the barriers preventing fly-tipping from being dealt with.

“There must be a long-term sustainable solution, so we are pleased the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is seeking to provide funding for the joint effort and, if successful, the outcome could be rolled out to other local authorities.”

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One idea the CLA is keen to explore is a ticketing scheme for victims which uses a reference number to trace the crime, from the point of reporting the fly-tipping to the police or local authority to disposing of it at the local tip.

The NFU study counted 168 fly-tipping incidents this year – an increase of 45 per cent.

Household waste represents over half of what is tipped and the NFU says data suggests there may be a growing trend in opportunistic fly-tipping, possibly as a result of increased fees at licensed sites, or changes to their opening hours.

NFU environment policy adviser Nicola Dunn said: “Our members rightly feel they are the victims of this growing trend in fly-tipping, which costs them both time and money.

It is incredibly unfair that the responsibility of clearing up after those who are flouting the law lies solely with landowners.

“We hope this report and today’s summit will start the ball rolling in ensuring our members, and other private landowners, get a fair deal. If they do have to clean up after those who have no respect for the countryside whatsoever, there should be a support mechanism in place so that they can deal with the problem with minimal disruption and cost. We aren’t asking for much but now is the time to act.”

The NFU would prefer to see a change in legislation to remove the legal responsibility for landowners to deal with fly-tipping on their land. However, it is recognised that in the current economic and political climate, a change in legislation isn’t seen as the solution for Government as it would place the full cost burden on local authorities.

The NFU has asked for:

1) A shared solution to reduce the burden on private landowners and help them to deal with fly-tipping. Landowners who clear tips and transport the waste to a local authority disposal site should be provided with a free of charge disposal for the fly-tipped waste;

2) Local authorities to recognise that their own waste policies can have an impact on the amount of fly-tipping in a local area, so they should be part of the solution too – regardless of whether the land is private or public;

3) The FlyCapture database to be used to record fly-tipping incidents, including those on private land. The data would be used to monitor progress, assess trends and investigate the impact of waste policies.