Farmer’s fury over litterbugs and fly-tippers

Farmer Billy Curry at the vandalised wall and litter-strewn field near the coastal path near Howick.
Farmer Billy Curry at the vandalised wall and litter-strewn field near the coastal path near Howick.

A Northumberland farmer has described the clutter left by visitors to a coastal beauty spot as disgraceful.

Billy Curry, who has farmed at Howick Scar all his working life, said litterbugs, fly-tippers and vandals have left the edge of his field near the popular coastal footpath in a mess.

Rubbish has been dropped over the wall by motorists parking in a layby alongside the road between the farm and Howick village, ignoring a bin just a few feet away.

Mr Curry discovered the sorry collection of cans, bottles, tree branches and general litter, including a fold-up seat and a glasses case, after sheep in the field had eaten and trampled the long grass next to the wall.

Stones in the wall have also been pushed into the field.

“It’s disgraceful – whoever has left this mess can’t even be bothered to use the bin. And that’s wanton vandalism,” Mr Curry said, pointing to the wall. The 76-year-old farmer has reported the rubbish to the parish and county councils but is still waiting for it to be cleared up.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has launched a bid to clamp down on fly-tippers, with farmers and landowners fed up with dealing with the state of the countryside.

It is calling for a concerted campaign to educate householders not to use illegal waste carriers to dump their rubbish and more prosecutions to act as a stronger deterrent.

The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses has responded to a government consultation on ways to tackle crime and duty of care in the waste sector. The organisation says its members reported a 200% increase in fly-tipping on private land in just three years and is supporting the government proposal to introduce fixed penalty notices for householders who do not dispose of their waste through proper legal channels.

CLA legal adviser Andrew Gillet said: “Fly-tipping is not a victimless crime. Almost two thirds of private rural landowners suffer from repeated fly-tipping incidents and are fed up with clearing away other people’s rubbish and paying for the privilege.

“Introducing a fixed penalty notice for householders who pass their waste on to unauthorised waste carriers would be a useful deterrent. However, to really tackle the crime, raising awareness of the risks of being caught and bringing forward more prosecutions are the right methods that will bring about a real change in behaviour.

“Without better understanding from the public and the right legal deterrents in place, fly-tipping will continue to increase exponentially and further blight the countryside.”

The CLA also proposes that victims of fly-tipping on private land should be allowed to dispose of the illegal waste free of charge at local tips.

Mr Gillett said: “It is a complete injustice that private landowners who experience fly-tipping are then subject to becoming a criminal themselves if they do not clear up and pay for the mess to be disposed of. If they must clear it up themselves they should not be charged for disposing of it legally.”

For more, visit https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste/crime-and-poor-performance-in-the-waste-sector/