Winter fly-tipping warning for South West landowners as incidents rise

By Tim Lethaby

25th Jan 2022 | Local News

A rural insurance expert is urging South West farmers and landowners to take extra steps to protect themselves against fly-tipping this winter, with latest figures revealing a rise in cases.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a total 55,162 fly-tipping incidents were recorded across the region in 2020/21, up from 50,506 during the previous 12 months. Incidents on agricultural land increased, year-on-year, from 241 to 563.

Mendip has seen a very big increase in numbers, from a total number of incidents in 2019/20 of 1497, to 2283 in 2020/21.

Across Bath and North East Somerset the number of incidents increased from 2169 to 2966.

"Fly-tipping is an unwelcome blight on our countryside and can represent far more than an inconvenience to victims of the crime," said Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, of rural insurance broker Lycetts.

"Incidents not only pose significant environmental and human health risks, but also a legal and financial burden for farmers and landowners.

"Although local authorities will usually pay the clean-up costs of clearing waste from public land, the responsibility for removing waste from private land falls squarely at the feet of the landowners. If they fail to do so, they can face prosecution."

Clean-up bills per incident average around £1,000, according to the National Rural Crime Network, but large-scale incidents can cost upwards of £10,000. Wailes-Fairbairn, however, explained that farm businesses can insure the risk.

"In some cases, farmers can be repeatedly targeted and costs can quickly escalate," he said.

"Many combined farm policies, however, will cover the clean-up costs, typically capped between £10,000 and £15,000 for the insurance period."

Wailes-Fairbairn pointed out that environmental criminals can be more inclined to act under cover of darkness and that councils will often see a surge of incidents in January as people look to dispose of post festive waste, including Christmas trees.

"For those at risk of being targeted during these dark winter evenings, extra vigilance and a review of security measures is prudent," he added.

"Prevention is better than cure and steps should be taken to ensure access to land and fields is restricted, where possible, with physical barriers.

"Gates should be locked when not in use and although witnesses of fly-tipping incidents should not approach the perpetrators, by cutting back hedges and installing exterior lighting, visibility for the landowner can be notably improved. The installation of security cameras can also act as a deterrent and help in securing successful prosecutions."

The Lycetts Group was founded in 1961 and has grown to become one of the UK's leading independently-operated insurance brokers.

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