Dartford farmers suffer worst in south east with flytipping
PUBLISHED: 14:19 11 April 2019
Dartford is the worst area in the south east for flytipping on agricultural land, according to new figures, and by some margin.
But it Gravesham’s farmers in are getting off lightly.
These are the findings in a new report on the unsocial and illegal act of publicly dumping waste.
There were more than 500 agricultural flytipping incidents reported to councils in South East England last year, and that is the “tip of the iceberg”.
In Dartford, during 2017/18, there were a reported 2,366 incidents of flytipping, including 190 of them on agricultural land.
In Gravesham none of the 2,122 incident were on farm land.
And it is the farmers who are bearing the brunt of the clean-up costs from the illegal acts.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says there was a total of 79,307 flytipping incidents across the south east, including 551 on agricultural land. That means Dartford sees a third of all offences across the south east.
Will Kendrick, of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB), said that true scale of flytipping on South East farmland is not reflected in the figures, as the DEFRA statistics excludes the majority of private-land incidents.
He points out that farmers who fall prey to this crime are having to shoulder the burden, responsible for meeting the cost of clearing rubbish from their land themselves. And that is an average cost of £1,000 per incident. They are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.
Kendrick, who advises farmers in the South East, said: “Flytipping is a blight on our countryside, but dumped waste is not only visually impactful and a nuisance – it can be a source of pollution and cause harm to humans, animals and the environment.
“This year’s DEFRA figures show that it is not only everyday household waste that gets dumped by flytippers – thousands of incidents involve asbestos, clinical waste and chemical and fuel waste.
“So, farmers are 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.
“These flytippers, both thoughtless individuals and unscrupulous ‘waste businesses’, don’t care that their irresponsible actions could lead to farmers being prosecuted under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
“Innocent farmers have the choice of footing the clean-up bill or facing significant fines for not dealing with someone else’s mess.”
Kendrick stressed the importance of having sufficient protection for farming businesses, particularly in the case of repeat offences. Many combined farm insurance policies cover the cost of flytipping – generally around £5,000 per incident and capped at £15,000.
“In our experience, there is a reluctant acceptance by farmers that flytipping it is part of their everyday lives, and they quietly deal with incidents, without making a claim,” he added.
“But if farmers are unfortunate enough to have a flytipping ‘hotspot’ on their land, costs soon tot up and their business could be put in jeopardy.”
Kendrick said: “Be vigilant, communicate with neighbours and report suspicious vehicles to the authorities.
“Consult with your insurance broker to see what cover is afforded to you in the event of an incident.
“Deter would-be flytippers by ensuring that fields, particularly those which are roadside, are gated and locked where possible.
“If you fall victim to a flytipping incident, be cautious, as the waste could be hazardous. Record as much detail as possible, take photos and report the incident to your local council.
“If the problem persists, consider setting up security lights and a camera. This will help provide crucial evidence should the council decide to investigate. “Finally, and most importantly, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly and, if required, use a reputable, registered waste company to help with disposal. By failing to remove the waste or moving it on to public land, you will leave yourself open to prosecution and could face fines of tens of thousands of pounds.”