SEIZING vehicles must become the default penalty for fly-tipping.

It is one of the proposals put forward by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend when incidents can rise sharply.

As well as seizing vehicles, the CLA recommends enforcing fines for home and business owners whose waste is found in fly-tipped locations and appointing a ‘Fly-Tipping Tsar’ to co-ordinate with national agencies.

It also proposes developing new ways to clear up and support victims so that private landowners are not liable, educating the public, and working in partnership to reduce waste crime through best practice.

A survey conducted by Farmers Weekly and CLA Insurance revealed that almost two thirds of farmers and landowners had been affected by fly-tipping and more than half agreed it was a significant issue.

Some 85 per cent had taken measures to protect their land such as installing gates or barriers, padlocking entrances and using CCTV, but only 13 per cent had insured their farm business against fly-tipping.

Most said they had been targeted two or three times a month and – because private landowners are liable for the clean-up costs – were spending on average £844 per incident.

Out of 936,000 fly-tipping incidents in 2015-16 only 129 vehicles were seized, and out of 2,135 prosecutions only 77 fines of more than £1,000 were imposed, according to figures published by Defra this year.

Ross Murray, CLA president, said: “Private landowners are fed up of clearing away other people’s rubbish and paying for the privilege. If they don’t act, they risk prosecution for illegal storage of waste which is simply not fair.

“It’s not just the odd bin bag that is being fly-tipped but tonnes of hazardous waste, mattresses being set alight in woodland and even a dead horse dumped on private land because the perpetrators know they can get away with it.

“We need to see tougher penalties which act as a true deterrent. Seizing vehicles involved in fly-tipping and imposing and enforcing penalties which better reflect the seriousness of the crime is vital.”

George Winn-Darley, CLA Yorkshire committee member owns Aldby Park country estate, near Stamford Bridge, and suffers from multiple incidents of fly-tipping each year.

At the start of the year, his team spent 46 hours using a tractor and trailer to clear fly-tipped rubbish and furniture along road verges, at a cost of about £800. Two tractor trailer loads of rubbish were removed.

He believes fixed penalty notices are ineffective. “Local authorities need to crack down hard by issuing harsher penalties such as increased fines, confiscating offender vehicles, and imprisonment,” he said.

“At the moment, it is generally more expensive for the victim, owners of private land, to remove the fly-tipped material than the fixed penalty notice issued as more than 80 per cent of these are for £500 or less.”