AN INCREASE in rural fly-tipping can cause environmental, health, legal and financial burdens for landowners and farmers, it has been warned.
Despite a drop in fly-tipping incidents in Brighton and Hove - 2,100 in 2022/21 to 1,527 the following year – rural incidents are on the rise.
In Lewes, the number of incidents went from 163 to 265, while in Chichester, it went from 1,011 to 1,657.
Horsham, Eastbourne, Arun and Mid Sussex also saw increases in fly-tipping in the past year.
A total of 121,283 fly-tipping incidents were recorded across the South East in 2020/21 - up from 90,507 during the previous 12 months.
Incidents on agricultural land also increased year-on-year from 794 to 1,133.
Rural insurance broker at Lycetts Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn 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,” he said.
“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. Large-scale incidents can cost upwards of £10,000.
However, Mr Wailes-Fairbairn said farm businesses can insure the risk.
“In some cases, farmers can be repeatedly targeted, and costs can quickly escalate,” he said.
“Many combined farm policies, however, will cover the clean-up costs, typically capped between £10,000 and £15,000 for the insurance period.”
He said 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,” he added.
“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.”