Newly-released figures from Defra show that there were more than a million incidents of fly-tipping on public land in the last year – and more than 100,000 in the South East alone.

Councils dealt with 1.09 million fly-tipping incidents in 2021/2022, though these figures only account for waste illegally dumped on public land that has been reported to the authorities. Representing around 27,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) believes these figures only tell half of the story.

Many fly-tipping incidents occur on privately-owned land, painting an even more damaging picture of the financial burden and environmental impact fly-tipping brings. One CLA member is so badly affected he pays £50,000 a year to clear up waste.

This highlights the need to change the current fining and imprisonment laws, which are not often enforced and do not deter criminals.

CLA South East represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.

Regional Director Tim Bamford said: “These fly-tipping figures barely scratch the surface of a crime that’s blighting rural communities and damaging the rural economy. Two-thirds of all farmers and landowners have at some stage been a victim.

“But hundreds of thousands of offences on private land are going unrecorded, with farmers bearing the cost of removing rubbish themselves.

“It’s not just the odd piece of litter blotting the landscape, but tonnes of household and commercial waste which can often be hazardous – even including asbestos and chemicals – risking the safety of people and animals. This often requires costly expert treatment to remove. 

£100,000 to clear up other people’s mess

“The maximum fine for fly-tipping is £50,000 or 12 months in prison, but this is rarely enforced. This means landowners pay on average £1,000 to remove the waste, but in some cases have paid up to £100,000 to clear up other people’s mess, or risk facing prosecution themselves.

“It seems that criminals simply do not fear prosecution. Ministers should look urgently at increasing the penalties for convicted fly-tippers, and properly resource rural police forces to ensure they are held to account. Without more progress farmers, not the criminals, will continue to pay the price.”

By Ed

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