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Incidents of fly-tipping in West Berkshire increase by nearly 30 per cent during 2021

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South East landowners are being warned of a rise in incidents of winter fly-tipping as figures show an overall increase of more than 30,000 incidents across the region compared to the previous 12 months.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), a total of 121,283 fly-tipping incidents were recorded in 2020/21, up from 90,507 during the period of 2019/2020.

Incidents on agricultural land increased, year-on-year, from 794 to 1,133.

Fly-tipping is on the increase
Fly-tipping is on the increase

In West Berkshire the overall figure for fly-tipping incidents rose from 886 to 1151.

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

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

Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn
Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn

“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.

Mr Wailes-Fairbairn said: "In some cases, farmers can be repeatedly targeted and costs can quickly escalate. Many combined farm policies, however, will cover the clean-up costs, typically capped between £10,000 and £15,000 for the insurance period.”

Mr 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.

“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.”

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