Fly-tipping rise: NFU backs new national waste unit to tackle crime ‘nightmare’

The National Farmers’ Union has backed the launch of a new national waste unit, hoping it will help in the fight against the scourge of fly-tipping that continues to be a blight on the British countryside.

The unit will be launched in December by the Environment Agency and will work alongside the police’s rural crime unit and HMRC.

It comes as the latest fly-tipping statistics show that for the year 2018-19, local authorities in England dealt with just over one million incidents, an increase of 8% from the 998,000 incidents reported in 2017-18.

‘A nightmare’

NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts said: “These new figures highlight a situation that continues to spiral out of control now affecting two-thirds of all farmers with potentially a large number of unrecorded incidents taking place on private land.

It’s a nightmare for our members being bombarded with rubbish that’s illegally dumped – costly and time-consuming to remove, dangerous to human health, harmful to wildlife and livestock and, in some cases, fly-tipped waste pollutes watercourses and contaminates land.

“Many do all they can to prevent fly-tippers, such as installing gates, barriers, warning signs, security cameras and lighting. However, in many cases, we have found that deterrents do not work.

“In some cases, farmers also experience intimidation, violence and threats on their doorstep from criminal gangs.”

Call for tougher penalties

Roberts called for tougher penalties for those who dump waste.

It’s not widely known that 95% of fines for fly-tipping are lower than the cost of hiring a skip. What we need are punitive, exemplary fines to ensure the people who are fly-tipping don’t see fines as an irrelevance.

“We are pleased that the Environment Agency will set up the Joint Unit on Waste Crime next month, involving police and HMRC. But it’s imperative that farmers and landowners are involved at every stage as they are the ones at the sharp end.

“By working together, we can tackle this continual blight on our countryside and allow farmers to concentrate on what they do best, producing safe, traceable and affordable food for us to enjoy,” he said.

If you’re affected

Farmers and growers are urged to ensure they report rural crimes to the police, or to give information 100% anonymously to the dedicated Rural Crime Hotline run by the charity Crimestoppers, in partnership with the NFU.

Anyone can contact the line on: 0800-783-0137. Crimes can also be reported online at: ruralcrimehotline.co.uk.