FLY-TIPPING in the South West is the lowest in the country, says DEFRA - and landowners are being encouraged to stay vigilant in order to keep the numbers down.

The latest available figures from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show that 49,883 fly-tipping incidents were recorded across the region in 2021-22, down from 55,162 in the previous year.

Cornwall accounted for 3,259 of the fly-tipping incidents in 2021-22.

The worst affected area of the country for illegally dumped refuse is London (405,849 incidents in 2021-22) with the North West coming in next (128,426).

But while the figures for our part of the world may be encouraging, fly-tipping when it happens is a huge eyesore and can pose a health hazard to people and the environment. It’s also a big inconvenience and expense for the local councils, farmers or private landowners who have to remove the rubbish.

There were 338 incidents of agricultural fly-tipping in the South West in 2021-22, says rural insurance broker Lycetts.

Clean-up costs average £1,000, and failure to comply can lead to prosecution. With large-scale incidents costing up to £10,000 to deal with, it can be an expensive business.

“It is important that landowners continue to remain vigilant if the downward trajectory is to continue,” said William McCarter of Lycetts.

“Making it difficult for environmental criminals to access land is one of the most effective preventative measures you can take. Gates should be locked when not in use, fences should be in a good state of repair and hedges should be cut back to allow good visibility for property owners.

“Fly-tippers tend to operate under cover of darkness, so exterior lighting should be installed, if possible. Security cameras can also be an effective deterrent, and can help secure successful prosecutions.”

Fly-tipping is described by Cornwall Council as the illegal dumping of rubbish or bulky items on land not licensed to receive it.

The Council pledges to remove fly-tipped waste from its own land within 48 hours of reporting, unless specialist equipment or resources are needed.

While the local authority won’t collect fly-tips from private land, its Community Protection team will investigate reports of fly-tipping on private land where there is evidence that could lead to identifying the person responsible.

To report a fly-tipping incident use the link on Cornwall Council’s website

The council says: “If you see someone fly-tipping, make a note of: how many people are involved and what they look like; what has been tipped - how much and what it looks like; and details of any vehicles involved including make, colour and registration number if possible.

“Fly-tipping is often associated with dumping waste from vehicles. In this case the person who owns the vehicle can also be prosecuted.  This means that it is possible for a prosecution to occur when only the vehicle, not the driver, is identifiable.”