An agricultural expert has warned that the 12,000 incidents of fly-tipping reported to North West councils over the last 12 months is "just the tip of the iceberg", claiming that dumped waste is harming the regions farmers financially.
Insisting that the true scale of fly-tipping on North West farmland is not reflected in the figures showing that just 366 of the 11,920 incidents of fly-tipping occurred on farmland, Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers' (FMIB) Tony Laking has pointed out that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) data excludes the majority of private-land incidents.
Farmers who fall prey to fly-tipping have to shoulder the burden and bare responsibility for meeting the cost of clearing rubbish from their land at an average of £1,000 per incident. They are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.
“Fly-tipping is a blight on our countryside; it can be a source of pollution and cause harm to humans, animals and the environment," said Tony. “Thousands of incidents involve asbestos, clinical waste, and chemical and fuel waste [and] farmers not only have to fork out for clean-up costs but also have to worry about the danger it poses to themselves, their workers, their animals, and their land.
“Innocent farmers have the choice of footing the clean-up bill or facing significant fines for not dealing with someone else’s mess," he added. “If farmers are unfortunate enough to have a fly-tipping ‘hotspot’ on their land, costs soon tot up and their business could be put in jeopardy: incomes are forecast to drop this year, due largely to the volatile weather. Fly-tipping only tightens this financial squeeze.”
Stressing the importance of having insurance, Laking outlined a number of ways in which farmers can help protect themselves against fly-tippers, saying: “Be vigilant, communicate with neighbours, and report suspicious vehicles to the authorities."