Farming organisations have hit back at government claims that fly-tipping is down by more than 7% across England.

Figures released by DEFRA suggest that fly-tipping on public land had dropped by 7.5% to 1.24m incidents over the past year.

Meanwhile the number of prosecutions by local authorities on people who had dumped waste had increased to 1871, a rise of 26%.

While waste minister Jane Kennedy praised the work being done to reduce the problem, the Country Land and Business Association said DEFRA’s results “masked the full picture”.

CLA deputy president William Worsley said: “By putting out this news of fly-tipping on public land, it is side-stepping the real problem of increasing concern about fly-tipping on private land.”

Mr Worsley said a “more vigorous pursuit” of offenders was needed and that local tips should accept fly-tipped waste from farmers and land managers.

Aarun Naik, NFU environment policy adviser, said the government had left landowners to bear the cost of cleaning up illegal waste, something that was “unsustainable”.

“Fly-tipping continues to be a serious issue for our members and anecdotal evidence from farmers suggests that the problem is only getting worse.

“However in the absence of any national statistics the true extent of fly-tipping on private land remains unclear.”