"URGENT action" is needed to tackle fly-tipping in rural communities, according to the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

New figures from the Environment Agency suggest that farmers are the group of people who are most affected by fly-tipping, with the NFU adding that the rising number of incidents is having a devastating impact on farming businesses across the country.

NFU Deputy President, Stuart Roberts, said: “This survey has again thrown into sharp focus the extensive problems fly-tipping is causing.

"I hear every day about industrial-scale amounts of rubbish such as builder’s rubble, old furniture, kitchen appliances and used tyres being dumped in fields.

“In fact, our own rural crime survey in March revealed fly-tipping was the most prolific crime experienced by our members, with nearly half (48 per cent) of those surveyed saying they had been affected by fly-tipping in 2020.

"Not only is it affecting the hard work of our farmers in producing food and caring for the environment, but it’s taking a huge toll on farming families, both emotionally and financially.

“These crimes must be taken seriously. We need to understand the links to organised crime and commit to levelling up policing for both urban and rural areas to create a safer, cleaner and greener rural Britain.

“It’s clear the public agree. Recently, more than 50,000 people signed an open letter to the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners calling for better collaboration to tackle prevention, clean-up and prosecution.

"Everyone hugely values the benefits the countryside brings, and none of us want it blighted by huge amounts of rubbish being strewn across fields and on the sides of rural roads.

“The NFU would like to see the Environment Agency, the police, local authorities, and farmers working together to tackle the problems. In some areas these relationships work well, but we want a more consistent approach across the whole country.

“More also needs to be done to educate householders on their legal obligations of disposing rubbish and how they can better reduce, re-use and recycle their waste.

"Many people may not realise they are criminally liable for their rubbish being illegally dumped, even if someone else is responsible. It’s important government and local authorities take the lead in making people aware of their responsibilities.

“Offenders caught dumping waste illegally must also see the fines as a proper punishment, and these must act as a deterrent.”