THE South West has the lowest number of fly-tipping incidents in England, new figures have revealed.

In the wake of government findings, a rural insurance specialist is calling on landowners to double down on their efforts to keep environmental criminals at bay in a bid to maintain the positivetrend.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a total of 49,883 fly-tipping incidents were recorded across the region in 2021/22. This was down from 55,162 in the previousyear.

Locally South Hams District Council has reported 486 incidents in 2021/22 and 542 in 2020/21 a fall of 56 incidents in a year.

William McCarter, of rural insurance broker, Lycetts, said: “The figures are very encouraging, but it is important that landowners continue to remain vigilant if the downward trajectory is to continue.

“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.”

As well as posing significant and environmental health risks, fly-tipping can be a legal and financial burden.

While local authorities will pay the clean-up costs of clearing waste from public land, farmers and other landowners have responsibility for cleaning and removing waste from private land.

With 338 incidents of agricultural fly-tipping in the region, and with clean-up costs averaging £1,000, and large-scale incidents costing £10,000, it can be an expensive business.

Failure to comply can result in prosecution.

McCarter advised a combined farm insurance policy, which covers the clean-up costs, typically capped between £10,000 and £15,000 for the insurance period.