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Fly-tipping and littering must not be seen as a victimless crime

The Countryside Alliance has long campaigned on the problem of fly-tipping in the countryside. Government figures on fly-tipping only tell part of the story as official figures on the number of incidents on private land and the associated clear up costs are patchy.

Fly-tipping and littering must not be seen as a victimless crime: it is a scourge on our natural environment and a blight on the farms these criminals still too often target.

Farmers and other private landowners who are victimised are required by law to clear their land and bear the associated costs, which can be especially ruinous at a time when they are already under pressure from shifts in the agricultural subsidy regime.

Landowners who do not act or inform the local authorities about a fly-tipping incident risk prosecution for illegal storage of waste.

Farmers and rural businesses are having to resort to drastic measures to deter the crime, such as blockading gates and field entrances with machinery and other items. Often it is more expensive for the victim to remove the fly-tipped waste from private land than to pay the cost of the fixed penalty notice.

Local authorities should fulfil their legal obligation to clamp down on fly-tipping and make it easier for people to dispose of their waste legally. While preventative measures play a part in reducing fly-tipping, more needs to be done to bring those who perpetrate it to justice. For local authorities merely to dispose of waste rather than finding the culprits sends the wrong message to fly-tippers.

The Countryside Alliance’s last Rural Crime Survey, published last month, saw fly-tipping remain respondents’ second-highest rural crime priority for police to tackle, behind only agricultural machinery theft. It found that among those who reported a crime having been committed against them, 37% had suffered from fly-tipping.

This comes against a backdrop of 96% of those surveyed thinking rural crime was a significant problem in their community and 73% thinking crime had increased in the past 12 months.

This annual survey consistently demonstrates that crime is a key issue for rural communities, yet those communities feel that policing is often focused on their urban neighbours. Residents and businesses in the countryside pay as much, and often more, per head of population for policing and deserve equal treatment to their urban counterparts. 


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