FARMERS in Cumbria are being urged to be extra vigilant amidst a spike in fly-tipping caused by recycling centre closures and disrupted bin collection services.

Councils across the nation have closed down Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in response to the coronavirus lockdown and some have also scaled back rubbish collections due to reduced staff numbers.

Rural insurance specialist Lycetts is calling on farmers and landowners to take all necessary steps to protect their land, liaise closely with neighbours and ensure they have sufficient insurance cover in place should they fall victim to fly-tipping. Members of the public are also being encouraged to report any suspicious activity they witness to the police.

“At a time when farmers are working flat out to feed the nation ahead of the busy harvest months, they can ill-afford to contend with the costly and time-consuming burden of removing waste from their land,” said Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, Rural Divisional Director, Lycetts.

“Although the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has strengthened local authorities’ enforcement powers in recent years, the onus still lies with farmers and other private landowners to dispose of fly-tipped waste on their land. They can even be prosecuted if they fail to do so quickly enough.

“Despite pressure on government from organisations such as the Tenant Farmers Association and the Countryside Alliance, there are currently no plans to change the law,” added Mr Wailes-Fairbairn.

According to Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) statistics, 1,072,431 incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by local authorities in 2018/19, an eight per cent rise on the 998,000 in 2017-18.