Fed up farmers have welcomed the latest Environment Agency crackdown on fly-tipping – reaching epidemic proportions across the Three Counties area.
But rural affairs specialists at Bruton Knowles say pressure should also be applied to local councils to review tipping charges and opening hours in a bid to encourage rogue operators to use civic tips rather than the countryside to dispose of their waste.
Ben Compton from the firm’s Gloucester office said: “The Environment Agency and police have already targeted rogue operators in Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Hertfordshire in response to a surge in fly-tipping.
“While we welcome their direct action we believe reduced hours at council tips, rising costs of dumping trade waste and the reduced frequency in domestic collections is the principal driver of the surge in fly-tipping.
“While not attempting to make excuses for the idiots who dump waste in country lanes, verges and farm land the problem is clearly being exacerbated by the squeeze on hours and increased tipping charges.”
Ben Compton said Bruton Knowles were taking up the cudgels on behalf of farmers across the region who have had to pay out thousands of pounds to have other people’s trash removed from their land.
“In attempting to shave money from their own budgets, local authorities are actually shifting an increasing percentage of the disposal costs on to the farmers who are having to clear up the mess.”
He said some local authorities had introduced grey bins which won’t hold more than a couple of bags of waste. Other local authorities have moved to two weekly collections.
“There is even talk of having to book an appointment at the civic amenity site – which is clearly not practical for traders, SMEs and jobbing builders who are reluctant to pass the costs of waste disposal on to their clients for fear of losing business.”
Ben explained: “One factor in the build-up of household and trade waste is the increasing number of people going for extensions and renovations who are left with the option of paying extra for their builders to dispose of the waste or doing it themselves.
“Sadly, some people seem to think it’s worth the risk of fly tipping in a back lane or over farm land and hedges rather than pay the going rate at the local civic amenity site.”
Bruton Knowles is advising landowners that they are liable for any waste that is fly-tipped on their land and could be at risk of prosecution if they do not clear it away - often at considerable cost.
“It costs a good deal of money to clear up and if there are any contaminated materials involved then the cost implication as well as health issues are very high. Waste material could also include glass, metal and other items which could pose a problem to cattle, walkers, farm workers and wildlife.”
Ben Compton concluded: “This is not only a rural issue. The problem is just as bad in urban areas. Rather than attempt to track down every single van or tipper truck carrying out this noxious crime, the Environment Agency should be looking at the root causes of the problem – at the local tip.”