A fly-tipper has been fined £400 for dumping rubbish outside a farm following a successful appeal to trace the offender by Farmers Weekly.
Plucky dairy farmer Joe Tucker, 19, appealed to readers for help to identify the fly-tipper, who was caught on camera chucking waste out of her car.
Mr Tucker posted a video on Facebook, recorded on an infrared, battery-operated wildlife camera, which show a woman fly-tipping outside his farm in Temple Cloud, in the Chew Valley, north-east Somerset.
The video, which has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on Facebook, films the woman, aged about 55-60, opening the boot of her 4×4 Audi and nonchalantly removing a large plastic bag and depositing it by the hedge.
She returns to the boot to fetch some old wooden garden border fencing, which is also dumped.
Unbeknown to her, the woman’s actions were recorded on a £70 wildlife camera which Mr Tucker had strategically placed near a fly-tipping “hotspot” on his farm.
Following his appeal in Farmers Weekly last month, a number of people contacted Mr Tucker saying they had seen the report in the magazine and online and they knew the identity of the woman.
“The same name kept coming up again, so my mum decided she would call this woman and have a ‘heart to heart’,” Mr Tucker told Farmers Weekly. “My mum rang her up and told her: ‘We know it’s you. It’s getting very heated on Facebook. It’s all over the news. It’s better to come forward now.’
“We struck a deal with her, that if she goes to the council and admits the offence, we would not put her name out.”
Mr Tucker said the woman apologised for her behaviour and said she would go to the council offices and confess.
She was interviewed by environmental officers at Bath and North East Somerset (Bathnes) Council in Bath on Friday (8 June).
She was issued with a £400 penalty and given a caution about her future behaviour.
Mr Tucker said he was pleased that the woman had been punished for her crime. However, he was upset that the council refused to use some of the money to pay for the removal of the waste, which is still in place.
Cost of clearing
Alternatively, Mr Tucker said the council could have ordered the offender to pay for the cost of clearing.
“Bathnes Council took the money, but we still have to pay to remove somebody else’s waste. How is that fair?” said the farmer.
“The council officer said I could separate the waste into smaller bags and take it to the tip. But the rubbish was dumped on asbestos waste, which had been dumped there previously.
“I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to sift through this and risk my health. A contractor should come out and do it.”
Deterrent to others
Mr Tucker thanked Farmers Weekly for highlighting his case and said he hoped it would act as a deterrent to other fly-tippers.
“It worked out well for us. She got a fine, she got a punishment,” he added. “But we believe the penalty should have been bigger to send a message to others that dumping rubbish in the countryside is totally unacceptable.”
Farmers Weekly has contacted Bathnes Council to request a comment.
Fly-tipping on private land: landowner responsibilities
Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of liquid or solid waste on land or in water. It’s against the law to allow fly-tipping on your land, as fly-tipped waste can harm human health or the environment.
If you find waste dumped illegally on your land or water (for example, river, stream, pond or ditch) you must:
- Arrange to remove the fly-tipped waste safely – see the waste duty of care guidance
- Pay for the removal and disposal
Your local council or the Environment Agency may take enforcement action (like your local council serving you a notice to remove the waste) if you don’t get it removed.
Report the incident
You should report the incident to your local council or the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.
You should give the details (if you have them) of the date, time, location and description of the waste and of any vehicle involved.
When the Environment Agency will clear waste
The Environment Agency will only give you advice or clear the waste if the waste is harmful to human health or if there is an immediate threat to the environment – for example, if it is:
- A large amount of hazardous waste (your local council is responsible for smaller amounts)
- More than 5cu m of asbestos
- 75 litres or more of potentially hazardous waste in drums or containers
- More than a large lorry load (about 20cu m) of any type of waste
- In water and could pose a flood risk or cause pollution
(Source: Environment Agency)