An agricultural expert has warned of the ‘hidden cost’ of flytipping on innocent farmers, after it was revealed that councils have spent more than £4.5m on cleaning up the South East in just 12 months.
Newly-released figures from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that more than one million incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by councils in England in 2016-17, costing taxpayers nationally £58m.
Across Eastbourne, there were 473 incidents of fly-tipping in 2016-17, costing the local authority £19,375; while across Lewes, there were 147 incidents costing the local authority £10,831; and Mid Sussex 324 incidents at a cost of £35,522.
Every January, councils see a surge in flytipping, with rogue residents and traders dumping post-festive waste, including old Christmas trees.
DEFRA’s figures only reflect incidents on council land, not private land.
Farmer’s who find rubbish dumped on their land have to pay for its removal, at an average cost of £1,000 per incident.
Alan Sinclair, of Oxford-based farm insurance specialist Lycetts, said: “Farmers are well aware of this issue and are saddened by the visual impact it has on the countryside they maintain, as well as it being a nuisance and inconvenience when trying to get on with their normal, daily jobs.
“However, I don’t think that farmers are as aware that, should they fail to deal with incidences of flytipping on their land and it leads to environmental damage, they could be held liable under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
“With many authorities looking at introducing charges for bulky waste and organic waste collections and charging for dumping waste at council-run tips, there is a fear that flytipping incidents on farmland will increase.”
On a regional level, there were 79,911 reported flytipping incidents in the South East between April 2016 and March 2017 – an increase of 15 per cent on last year.
The clean-up cost to taxpayers in the South East totalled £4,541,608.
Alan said that, despite the increase in flytipping incidents, a relatively small number of farmers make claims for flytipping, as many have the kit and manpower to deal with such incidents.