Fly-tipping nightmare for Colchester farmer

Colchester: Farmer has called for new legislation to be introduced to protect victims of fly-tipping so landowners are not left to foot huge waste removal costs.

David Gibbon of Gibbon Farms, Colchester, who has fly-tipped rubbish dumped on his land on a monthly basis, had to pay almost �3,000 in 2007 to have asbestos removed in South Fambridge by contractors and believes the government should foot the bills.

The call comes as the Essex Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPREssex) have announced plans to collect data and record incidents of fly-tipping on open spaces and agricultural land throughout the county.

Current legislation under the Environmental Protection Act states when hazardous waste is disposed of without the consent of the landowner it is not their responsibility to clear it up. But once it is there and the landowner knows it is he could be prosecuted.

Mr Gibbon is one of many famers and landowners in the area to fall victim to this illegal practice. Just two weeks ago, building materials, including bricks and plaster were left on his farm at Thorrington Hall.

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“Even though this time it’s not dangerous waste I will still have to pay to get rid of it properly. The real problem are hazardous materials which you have to pay a lot of money for approved contractors to come and collect.

“I want rubbish tips to receive any non-hazardous waste left on my land for free and any costs for the removal of hazardous waste should be picked up by the public purse.”

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Tom Holme, chairman of CPREssex said: “This is a growing menace. It is something which is difficult to control but the real problem is that under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 it is the innocent victims, the landowners, who have to remove fly-tipped hazardous waste at their own expense.

“This is a matter which affects all of us, since publicly owned land is targeted just as much as privately owned land.”

Nigel Brown, Tendring District Council’s Communications Manager, said that any initiative to raise the profile of the problem of fly-tipping and the damage and blight it causes to the environment is to be applauded.

“Measures such as encouraging landowners to secure their land and impressing on people to only use licensed waste carriers to remove their rubbish would also help a great deal to reduce dumping of materials,” he added.

Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin also welcomed the move by CPREssex: “I’m delighted by this initiative. Information is key and the more we have and the better records we keep, the more likely we’ll be able to prosecute those that commit this crime.”

Across the county, landowners are being invited to complete a questionnaire of fly-tipping that has taken place on their land since January 2010 to identify the ‘hot-spots’ and give a better chance of tracking down the culprits.

The campaign is also being supported by the Country Landowners’ Association (CLA) and the National Farmers’ Union who will help with the project which should take 12 months.

But spokesman from the CLA Tim Isaac, warned that it would not be an easy ride, especially with public sector cuts coming. However, he also stressed it was a very important first step in changing legislation.

“This year is particularly relevant with the cuts to public spending which could mean the closing or reducing of waste disposal sites and therefore the potential for more fly-tipping. But we’re happy to take the time to get robust evidence to present to government.”

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