Farmers in Dorset are calling for tougher measures to crack down on fly-tipping after they were targeted in a spate of incidents on farms in the county.
Justin Langham, a sheep and arable farmer, has been targeted twice in the past 10 days by fly-tippers who dumped rubbish on his farm fields.
Mr Langham’s farm was hit around the same time as neighbouring sheep farmer Calum Sutherland, of East Farm, Sturminster Newton, who came forward to tell Farmers Weekly about his fly-tipping hell last week.
When both farmers contacted Dorset Police they were told to contact their council as fly-tipping is a civil and not a criminal matter.
But Mr Langham, farm owner of 142ha Warren Farm in Bulbarrow, Blandford, said he was fed up being “passed from pillar to post” by the authorities, adding that it was time to get tougher on fly tippers.
“They should make fly-tipping a criminal offence rather than a civil offence. Then the police will be compelled to act,” he added.
“The authorities are refusing to take any responsibility for fly-tipping. Now I’m faced with a clean-up bill to remove somebody else’s mess if I want to get my fields cleaned before I drill new crops in the next 10 days.”
Currently, under the Environment Protection Act 1990, it is the landowner’s responsibility to clean up any fly-tipped mess that is dumped on private land, including farmland.
A spokesman for Dorset Waste Partnership said: “We do not remove waste from private land, but if it was in the public interest we would investigate, particularly considering there is evidence as to where the waste came from.
“There is no definitive guidance as to who does what in relation to fly-tipping on private land.
“However, there is a landowners’ protocol produced by the National Fly-tipping Prevention Group, which advises that ‘local authorities will normally remove, investigate and take appropriate enforcement action with regard to fly-tipped waste on private land or in watercourses that is giving rise to an adverse effect on the amenity or that is impeding the flow of water’.
“We receive a large number of reports of fly-tipping across Dorset, the majority of which are on public land, including more than a hundred over the past two weeks.”
A Dorset Police spokesman said: “Fly-tipping is unfortunately not a police matter and therefore we are unable to deal with it. We advise complainants of fly-tipping to look into civil action and contact their local authority for further advice.”
According to DEFRA, local authorities dealt with more than 744,000 incidents of fly-tipping in 2011-12, compared with nearly 820,000 in 2010-11. The estimated cost to local authorities of clearing up was £37.4m.
The NFU said figures showed fly-tipping on private land over the same period had soared by 64%.
NFU environment policy adviser Anna Simpson said: “The NFU deplores fly-tipping and the detrimental effect it has on farms including huge removal costs, potential risks to the environment and livestock plus damage to the image of the industry.
“More needs to be done to ensure local authorities, the Environment Agency and the police work together to tackle this crime on private land. Farmers are the victim of this crime and therefore should not be penalised financially for removing the dumped waste.”
A DEFRA spokesman said: “Fly-tipping is a criminal offence and we are working closely with landowners, local authorities, the Environment Agency and the police to put a stop to it.
“This includes strengthening the powers of local authorities and the Environment Agency to stop, search and seize the vehicles of suspected waste criminals, ensuring fines and punishments act as a real deterrent and developing a best practice guide for partnership working.”