COUNCILS in Yorkshire and Humberside spent almost £5 million clearing up fly-tipping last year.

Figures released by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), reveal that every January councils see a surge in fly-tipping of festive waste and Christmas trees.

The figures showed there were 69,758 reported fly-tipping incidents in Yorkshire and Humberside between April 2016 and March 2017 - 875 more incidents than the previous year, and the clean-up cost taxpayers £4,944,730. In York, there were 1,518 incidents in 2017, up from 1,223 the previous year, which cost the council £65,087 to clear.

Gerard Salvin, of Yorkshire-based farm insurance specialist Lycetts, said even though the figures were high, they were still not a true reflection of the cost of fly-tipping across Yorkshire and Humber, as they only accounted for fly-tipping incidents on council land, not private land.

Farmers who fall prey to fly-tippers are responsible for meeting the cost of clearing rubbish from their land – at an average £1,000 per incident - and are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.

Mr Salvin said: “Farmers are well aware of this issue and are saddened by the visual impact it has on the countryside they maintain, as well as it being a nuisance and inconvenience when trying to get on with their normal, daily jobs.

“However, I don’t think that farmers are as aware that, should they fail to deal with incidences of fly-tipping on their land and it leads to environmental damage, they could be held liable under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. With many authorities looking at introducing charges for bulky waste and organic waste collections and charging for dumping waste at council-run tips, there is a fear that fly-tipping incidents on farmland will increase.”

Only a small number of farmers make claims for fly-tipping, as many have the equipment and manpower to deal with such incidents, but Mr Salvin said they could take steps to protect themselves. He said: “Be vigilant, communicate with neighbours and report suspicious vehicles to the authorities.

"Consult with your insurance broker, to see what cover is afforded to you in the event of an incident, and check with your local council, who may have schemes to assist with the removal of waste.

“Deter would-be fly-tippers by ensuring that fields, particularly those which are roadside, are gated and locked where possible. If the problem persists, consider setting up security lights and a camera. This will help provide crucial evidence should the council decide to investigate. Finally, and most importantly, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly. By failing to remove the waste or moving it on to public land, you will leave yourself open to prosecution and could face fines of tens of thousands of pounds.”