Prominent West Sussex farmer calls for action on fly-tipping after more than one million cases

A prominent West Sussex farmer is calling on authorities to do more to tackle fly-tipping after new figures show more than a million fly-tipping incidents across the country last year.
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Councils across England reportedly dealt with 1.08m cases of illegal fly-tipping in 2022-23, down 1pc from the previous year.

NFU Vice President and West Sussex farmer David Exwood, who farms south of Horsham, said: “The latest figure showing just over a million reported fly-tips is still way too high and part of a concerning overall upward trend over the past five years. We believe this figure could be even higher as it doesn’t take into account reports from private landowners.

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"Fly-tipping continues to be a huge problem and one that plagues the lives of so many of us living and working in the countryside. Items such as worn-out tyres, battered old fridges and bags of rubble are commonplace. But more and more our farms are being strewn with kitchen appliances, sofas and increasingly, industrial-scale amounts of rubbish such as builder’s rubble and hazardous materials.

NFU Vice President and West Sussex farmer David ExwoodNFU Vice President and West Sussex farmer David Exwood
NFU Vice President and West Sussex farmer David Exwood

“This is affecting farmers' efforts to produce food and care for the environment but is also taking a huge toll emotionally and financially.

“It is good to see government taking the issue seriously and launching initiatives to combat the issue. These include increasing the maximum penalty for fly-tipping from £400 to £1000 as part of its Antisocial Behaviour Plan, funding a new fly-tipping post within the National Rural Crime Unit and abolishing charges for DIY waste to be disposed of at recycling centres – although some charges still apply and booking systems can mean lengthy waits.

“The NFU believes more can and should be done including better promoting the household duty of care to ensure all householders are aware that their responsibility for waste disposal is maintained to its final disposal point. We also want to see accreditation for all council enforcement officers to give them enhanced police-style powers to tackle fly-tipping and littering.”

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NFU Regional Policy Manager for the East of England Charles Hesketh said: “Fly-tipping has been an issue for farmers and landowners in East and West Sussex and other areas for many years and, unfortunately, we have not seen a lot of progress in tackling it.

“Neither the police, councils or the Environment Agency have taken full ownership of the issue, so the problem often ends up sitting with the farmer or landowner.

“Not only are they victims of the crime but are the ones who often end up having to take responsibility and incur the costs of clearing up the rubbish which is illegally dumped on their land. This is completely unfair.

“The costs of removing and disposing of some of this waste can run into tens of thousands of pounds.

“It can also seriously disrupt farm work at critical times of the year.

“The government needs to work with councils, the Environment Agency and police to find a solution to this.”

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