Agriculture & Rural Property

Publish date

14 September 2023

What are the options for farmers when it comes to fly-tipping on agricultural land?

With the high price of legally removing waste, as well as the ease of access to agricultural land, fly-tipping remains a substantive issue for farmers and agricultural land owners.

In this article, we explore the different options available to combat fly-tipping and how the Government has reacted to protect landowners.

What is fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is the act of illegally dumping waste onto public or private land. Agricultural land is a common target for fly-tipping and costs landowners and the taxpayer an estimated £50-150 million each year to clean up.

The fly-tipped waste ranges from non-hazardous items such as kitchen appliances or demolition waste to hazardous items such as asbestos sheeting.

How does the large amount of fly-tipping effect you as a farmer or landowner?

Despite the waste being discarded on your land by someone else, the obligation is normally on the landowner to dispose of the waste legally, with Farmers Weekly estimating the average clean-up cost to the farmer for each incident being £800.

What are the options and how has the Government reacted?

When fly-tipping is on private land it is the responsibility of the landowner to then dispose of it, ensuring they do so correctly to avoid being penalised themselves.

Despite the high costs imposed on landowners to remove the fly-tipped waste, there is a way for these cost to be recovered from the fly-tipper. The costs spent on the investigations, clean up and enforcement work can be recovered from the polluter – but only if the polluter is caught.

In July, the Government announced the following:

  • The maximum amount those caught fly-tipping could be fined will increase from £400 to £1,000
  • The maximum amount those who breach their household waste duty of care could be fined will increase from £400 to £600.

Higher fines and imprisonment can be imposed if the offender is convicted in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court.

However, there is ongoing pressure from landowners for local councils to assist further with fly-tipping on private land. This is currently being resisted.

Five tips for landowners to deal with fly-tipping

  1. All incidents of fly-tipping should be reported to your local authority. This will increase the chances of the culprit being found and also ensure the statistics on fly-tipping are closer to the reality
  2. Safely store all the details regarding the clearance and disposal costs. If the culprit is successfully prosecuted then these can be recovered
  3. Ensure that a registered waste carrier is instructed to remove the waste from the land to avoid the risk of facing a fine
  4. There is insurance available for fly-tipping. Check your current cover to see if you are covered
  5. Make it as difficult as possible for the fly-tippers by making sure that gateways are locked or there are large objects preventing access to parking and easy access to the land.

The NFU has a useful list of actions to take if you are the victim of fly-tipping –,also%20report%20their%20statistics%20nationally

If you wish to discuss any aspect of your rural business please do not hesitate to contact a member of Thomson Snell & Passmore’s expert Agricultural & Rural Property team




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