A farmer was left stunned after a council told him a large pile of rubbish dumped on his farm did not affect the amenity of his local area.
Sheep farmer Calum Sutherland, assistant manager at East Farm, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, was targeted by fly-tippers who left a pile of building materials, roughly 3sq m, strewn across the farm.
Mr Sutherland contacted police, trading standards, his council and Dorset Waste Partnership about the matter. He hit out at police and council “inaction” and said no one wanted to investigate his case – despite a trail of evidence leading to those responsible.
Frustrated by a lack of action or willingness from the authorities to take on his case, he contacted Farmers Weekly to ask for help.
When Farmers Weekly contacted Dorset County Council to ask what it was doing about the incident, Dorset Waste Partnership, which provides waste and cleansing services for Dorset councils, sent the following statement:
“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. We have spoken to Mr Sutherland and offered to visit the site next week.
“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.”
It added: “At the time speaking to Mr Sutherland we did not feel that the incident gave rise to an adverse effect on the amenity of the area. We receive a large number of reports of fly-tipping across Dorset, the majority of which are on public land, including more than 100 over the past two weeks.”
Mr Sutherland said: “I’m pretty stunned that Dorset Waste Partnership didn’t consider the waste dumped on our farm to be enough of an eyesore to step in. I can understand that they may need to categorise fly-tipping offences according to severity and resources are stretched, but this heap was just a few yards away from a public bridleway.
“To make matters worse, I provided all the authorities with evidence clearly pointing to those responsible. I think the authorities are all very lax about it and unhelpful. Because it was on private ground they just didn’t want to know.”
Since Farmers Weekly highlighted the incident, the perpetrator has come forward and admitted dumping the waste. The man was sub-contracted on behalf of a local builder to remove the waste following a renovation job at a local children’s nursery – but he chose to dump the waste on the farm instead.
Mr Sutherland said his employers, Orchid Meadow Farms, Britain’s largest producers of organic sheep milk, were considering legal action.
Meanwhile, Mr Sutherland said fly-tippers targeted the farm this week for a second time. They dumped a large pile of waste (pictured above), including glass, tiles, screws cigarette packets and a bucket of dog waste in a hedgerow bordering his farm, about 80 yards from the original offence.
“When does this become serious enough for the authorities to act?” he asked.