FARMERS are silently suffering the scourge of fly-tipping which is on the rise across the North-East, it has been claimed.

In a new report from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), figures revealed that fly-tipping incidents increased in 2018/19, with 1,609 more incidents reported than last year, 628 of which took place on agricultural land. A total of 63,646 fly-tipping incidents were reported to North-East councils in the last 12 months.

Tony Laking, account executive of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers (FMIB), warned, however, that this figure does not reflect the full scale of the problem for the region’s farmers, as most cases on private land go unreported – with victims left to foot the clean-up bill.

“Fly-tipping is a scourge on the farming community and their plight is not reflected in these figures as they exclude the majority of private-land incidents,” said Tony.

“Councils spend millions every year on clean-up costs but private landowners, such as farmers, are suffering in silence with little or no assistance or recourse.

“The burden of dumped rubbish falling squarely with farmers as they are liable for clearing it up at their own expense, or face prosecution.

"Moving the mess on to public land will not solve the issue, but exacerbate it, which farmers need to be mindful of.”

Tony said that in one incident he encountered, a farmer was unwittingly branded a fly-tipper after falling victim to the crime after he moved tyres dumped over his hedge to the other side of the hedgerow and informed the authorities. The waste was collected but he was slapped with a prosecution order for fly-tipping.

“Farmers are already faced with a myriad of difficulties, from economic uncertainty to market volatility, and having to fork out dealing with someone else’s mess just compounds these stresses,” said Tony.

Thousands of cases reported to DEFRA this year alone have shown that the waste disposed on farm land has been hazardous and included asbestos, clinical, and chemical waste.

“Secure the waste, so that animals and the public are not exposed to potentially dangerous material.

"Then, take photos and report the incident to your local council,” said Tony.

“Finally, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly by only using reputable, registered waste companies or if you take the waste to a licensed waste site yourself, make sure you are registered as a waste carrier.”