Landowners across the East of England are being urged to take extra steps to protect their property from fly-tippers following a spike in incidents across the region.

According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a total of 79,726 cases of fly-tipping were recorded across the East in 2020/21, up from 61,423 during the previous 12 months.

In Herts, Welwyn Hatfield saw the most significant increase, with cases almost tripling from 1,700 in 2019/20 to 4,836 in 2020/21.

In St Albans, incidents increased from 746 to 910, while Watford saw cases rise from 976 to 1,260, compared to Three Rivers' 535 to 660.

It was a similar story in the north of the county; in Stevenage, incidents rose from 1,794 to 3,156, while East Herts saw an increase from 1,013 to 1,346, while incidents went up from 1,153 to 1,871 in North Herts.

Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, of rural insurance broker Lycetts, said: “Fly-tipping is an unwelcome blight on our countryside and can represent far more than an inconvenience to victims of the crime.

“Incidents not only pose significant environmental and human health risks, but also a legal and financial burden for farmers and landowners.

“Although local authorities will usually pay the clean-up costs of clearing waste from public land, the responsibility for removing waste from private land falls squarely at the feet of the landowners. If they fail to do so, they can face prosecution.”

According to the National Rural Crime Network, clean-up bills per incident average around £1,000.

Rupert added: “For those at risk of being targeted during these dark winter evenings, extra vigilance and a review of security measures is prudent.

“Steps should be taken to ensure access to land and fields is restricted, where possible, with physical barriers.

“Gates should be locked when not in use and although witnesses of fly-tipping incidents should not approach the perpetrators, by cutting back hedges and installing exterior lighting, visibility for the landowner can be notably improved. The installation of security cameras can also act as a deterrent and help in securing successful prosecutions.”