Farmer hits out after fly-tippers blight Christmas

A Cambridgeshire farmer says his Christmas was blighted by brazen fly-tippers who dumped industrial-scale waste on his land.

George Hurrell discovered the huge pile of processed plastic, paper and cardboard strewn across a concrete pad on land in Streatham, near Ely.

Waste criminals smashed open a padlock on a farmgate and dumped 120-130cu m of rubbish from the back of a flatbed-type lorry.

See also: Revealed – the burden of fly-tipping on farms

The 28-year-old, who runs 1,300ha Newton Farms in partnership with his father, Henry, and younger brother, Jack, said the family would have to pay the £1,500 excess on their fly-tipping insurance policy to pay for the removal of the waste.

Mr Hurrell contacted his local council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, to report the crime. The council then referred him to the Environment Agency (EA), which investigates fly-tipping incidents in excess of 20t.

The EA has promised to visit the farm shortly to investigate the incident. If the waste includes toxic material, such as asbestos, they have told the farmers they will need to remove it as soon as possible.

Private landowner pays

Mr Hurrell said he did not bother to contact police as officers were “not interested” in investigating fly-tipping crimes that happened on his land in the summer.

“I just think it’s ridiculous that the onus is on the private landowner to foot the bill for somebody else’s fly-tipped waste,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“I can afford the £1,500 excess on our insurance, but other farmers would be crippled by this.

“The councils need to take more responsibility – there is no deterrent, so why wouldn’t you fly tip? I also question if there is an underlying issue with councils being incredibly harsh when accepting waste at local tips.”

People who fly-tip rubbish can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £400, or in court can face a fine of up to £50,000 or even imprisonment.

But Mr Hurrell said councils are not using these powers to prosecute offenders.

“South Cambridgeshire District Council issued two penalty notices for fly-tipping last year. That’s pathetic,” he said.

Investigation ongoing

Councillor Julia Huffer, service delivery champion for waste services at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Due to the size of this fly-tip, there is an investigation being led by the Environment Agency and we will do what we can to support them with this matter.

© Henry Hurrell

“We hope that within the vast amount of waste will be evidence that can be used to identify and find those responsible.  

“Fly-tipping is a blight on our beautiful district and we all need to work together to stamp it out wherever it occurs.”

Tips to prevent fly-tipping on farms

There are a number of steps that farmers and landowners can take to prevent fly-tipping on their land. These include:

  • Physical improvements such as the installation of gates and barriers and improved visibility
  • Better site management – keeping areas tidy and removing fly-tipped waste quickly
  • Deterrence – this can be in the form of successful prosecutions, signage, CCTV, security patrols, etc
  • Work with others including your neighbours, local businesses and any existing partnerships

Regardless of whether land is public or private, if you find fly-tipped waste you should report it to the relevant authority.

Source: National Fly-tipping Prevention Group