Fly-tipping in the Horsham area has soared over the past year, according to new Government figures.
And the increase has sparked warnings from agricultural experts over the hidden financial and emotional cost of the menace to farmers.
Figures just out show that there were 883 instances of illegal waste-dumping in Horsham in 2018/19, compared with 792 incidents the previous year.
But the situation in Mid Sussex is even worse. In that area - which covers Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and surrounding villages - there were 5,141 incidents of fly-tipping in 2018/19 compared with just 198 the previous year.
Throughout the south east, a total of 83,752 flytipping incidents were reported in the last 12 months.
Toby Baker, of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers warned the figure does not reflect the full scale of the problem for the region’s farmers, as most cases on private land go unreported – with victims left to foot the clean-up bill. “Flytipping is a scourge on the farming community and their plight is not reflected in these figures as they exclude the majority of private-land incidents,” he said.
“Councils spend millions every year on clean-up costs but private landowners, such as farmers, are suffering in silence with little or no assistance or recourse.
“The burden of dumped rubbish falling squarely with farmers as they are liable for clearing it up at their own expense, or face prosecution. Moving the mess on to public land will not solve the issue, but exacerbate it, which farmers need to be mindful of.”
He said the average financial cost of fly-tipping for victims was more than £1,000 a time.
Horsham District Council says that the penalty for fly-tipping is a fine of up to £50,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.
It says that dumped materials “can be anything from a single bag of rubbish to large quantities of waste emptied by trucks.”
Said a spokesman: “We are responsible for removing illegally dumped waste from public land.
“The removal of illegally dumped waste from private land is the responsibility of the landowner.
“If you see someone fly-tipping, do not stop them yourself. Try and take a photograph instead and note down the following so you can report it to us online.”