Waste warning after cow seen chewing on dumped can at Sutton Bridge

Heifer with plastic beer can ring.
Heifer with plastic beer can ring.
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A picture showing a cow chewing on the ring pull of a discarded beer can has been released in a bid to show the danger posed to animals from fly-tipping.

The shocking incident took place near a picnic area at East Lighthouse, Sutton Bridge on land where cattle graze.

Landowner Stafford Proctor says it is another example of people showing complete disregard for the countryside.

“On this occasion the fly-tipping was on a small scale and was a mixture of empty beer cans and bottles but the photograph clearly demonstrates the risk to our animals.

“The plastic around the beer cans could easily have been swallowed by our cattle which could have caused choking or even a fatality.

“Some of the beer cans had also been shredded before being dumped and there were glass bottles which could have also caused serious injury,” said Mr Proctor.

He added: “Sadly, fly-tipping is not an uncommon sight on our land. We often have washing machines, building waste, fridges and tyres dumped in ditches and on fields. It happens on a near fortnightly basis.

“Until we see a zero tolerance approach to fly-tipping, the illegal dumping of waste will continue. Each time there is an incident on private land it is the responsibility of the landowner to pay for it to be cleared. We are effectively paying for a crime committed by someone else.”

The CLA, which represents more than 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses, has set out an action plan for how government, farmers, landowners and rural communities can work together to tackle fly-tipping.

Making the seizure of vehicles a default penalty for fly-tipping is recommended as part of tougher punishments as well as enforcing fines for home and business owners whose waste is found in fly-tipped locations. There is also a call for new ways to be developed to clear up fly-tipping and support victims so that private landowners are not liable.

CLA East regional director Ben Underwood said: “Fly-tipping is a disgraceful crime that is costing farmers and landowners thousands of pounds to clear.

“This latest incident is evidence that there is not only a financial cost of clearing the dumped waste but also a risk in some cases to cattle and other animals.

“The number of incidents of fly-tipping continues to increase yet the number of prosecutions is ludicrously low. Until this changes and there is a tough enforcement of punishments, people will continue to commit this crime.”

The image follows the publication of figures showing that cases of fly-tipping are continuing to rise, with more than one million reported across England in 2016-17.

Government data shows 1,980 incidents were recorded in West Norfolk during 2016-17, an increase of 75 on the previous year.

The number of cases also rose in North Norfolk and South Holland, but fell by nearly 200 in Breckland to 1,060. The four authorities spent more than £200,000 between them tackling the problem.

Farmers have been urged to take steps to protect themselves and their lands against dumped waste.