Farmers are the group most affected by the illegal dumping of large amounts of rubbish, according to new figures from the Environment Agency.
The finding has prompted the NFU to renew its call for urgent action to tackle the problem Fly-tipping remains a priority issue for rural communities, said NFU deputy president and Stuart Roberts.
The rising number of incidents is having a devastating impact on farm businesses across the country, said Mr Roberts. More must be done to prevent fly-tipping from taking place, reminding the public of their responsibilities and punishing offenders.
“This survey has again thrown into sharp focus the extensive problems fly-tipping is causing. I hear every day about industrial-scale amounts of rubbish such as builder’s rubble, old furniture, kitchen appliances and used tyres being dumped in fields.”
Earlier this year, the NFU’s own rural crime survey revealed that fly-tipping was the most prolific crime experienced by NFU members, with nearly half (48%) of those surveyed saying they had been affected by fly-tipping in the past year.
“These crimes must be taken seriously,” said Mr Roberts. “We need to understand the links to organised crime and commit to levelling up policing for both urban and rural areas to create a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain.
“It’s clear the public agree. Recently more than 50,000 people signed an open letter to the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners calling for better collaboration to tackle prevention, clean-up and prosecution.
Mr Roberts added: “Everyone hugely values the benefits the countryside brings, and none of us want it blighted by huge amounts of rubbish being strewn across fields and on the sides of rural roads.”
The NFU wants the Environment Agency to work together with police, local authorities, and farmers to tackle the problem. In some areas these relationships work well but the NFU says a more consistent approach is needed across the country.
It says householders should be better informed about their legal obligations to ensure their rubbish is properly handled. Many people may not realise they are criminally liable for their rubbish being illegally dumped, even if someone else is responsible.
“Offenders caught dumping waste illegally must also see the fines as a proper punishment and these must act as a deterrent,” said Mr Roberts.