An agricultural expert is warning of the ‘hidden cost’ of flytipping, after it was revealed that Doncaster Council spent more than half a million pounds on cleaning up the town in just 12 months.
Newly-released figures from Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that Doncaster Council spent a total of £552,352 cleaning up 3,476 fly-tipping incidents between April 2016 and March 2017.
Every January, councils see a surge in flytipping, with rogue residents and traders dumping post-festive waste, including old Christmas trees.
On a regional level, there were 69,758 reported flytipping incidents in Yorkshire and Humber between April 2016 and March 2017 - 875 more incidents than last year.
The clean-up cost to taxpayers in the region totalled £4,944,730.
Gerard Salvin, of Yorkshire-based farm insurance specialist Lycetts, warns that these figures, as high as they seem, are not a true reflection of the cost of flytipping across Yorkshire and Humber.
The DEFRA figures only account for flytipping incidents on council land, not private land.
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 – at an average cost of £1,000 per incident. They are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.
Gerard 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.”
Gerard 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.
But he 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.
“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,” added Gerard.
“Farmers are not only having to fork out for clean-up costs but are having to worry about the damage it can cause to workers and their animals. Flytipping can affect every part of their livelihood.
“Like all insurance, most of the time you may wonder what the point of having it is, however, come the day, you could be very glad the cover is in place.”
Gerard outlined a number of ways in which farmers can help protect themselves against flytippers.
“Be vigilant, communicate with neighbours and report suspicious vehicles to the authorities,” he said.
The worst hit area was Leeds, with 16,425 incidents, followed by Bradford, with 12,191 incidents, and Sheffield, with 12,026. Unsurprisingly, Leeds had the highest bill for flytipping clearance, totalling £1,354,522.
“Consult with your insurance broker, to see what cover is afforded to you in the event of an incident, and check with your local council, who may have schemes to assist with the removal of waste.
“Deter would-be flytippers by ensuring that fields, particularly those which are roadside, are gated and locked where possible. 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. 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.”