St Albans farmer demands action to tackle rural crimes

CLA Herts branch chairman Lindsay Sinclair, Tollgate Farm, Colney Heath

CLA Herts branch chairman Lindsay Sinclair, Tollgate Farm, Colney Heath - Credit: Photo supplied

More needs to be done by the Government to help stamp out fly-tipping and fuel theft according to a St Albans farmer speaking on behalf of rural landowners and farm managers.

CLA Herts branch committee chairman Lindsay Sinclair, of Tollgate Farm in Colney Heath, has spoken about a range of issues affecting the farming sector ahead of the general election on May 7.

The organisation lobbies for its members interests across EU, national and regional levels and has released its manifesto for the General Election which calls upon the next government to consider 76 recommendations in relation to the agricultural industry.

Lindsay warned that heating oil and farm diesel were very much at risk of being stolen from local farms as “more people are struggling to pay their energy bills”.

Fly-tipping too is a problem in St Albans and throughout the county.

Lindsay said: “It costs landowners and farmers to clear any fly-tipped waste because not only do they have to allocate resource and spend time clearing it but, as businesses, they get charged to take rubbish to a waste recycling centre.

“If it is toxic waste - paint, printing ink, plaster board, tyres or asbestos - they have to pay the much higher cost of disposal by ‘experts’ and, as the law stands, can also be charged for having the waste there without the right paperwork and licence.”

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Lindsay alluded to a St Albans farmer who, “hit the headlines last year after revealing that he was hit by fly-tipping three times a week, and had experienced asbestos being dumped on his land”.

CLA is campaigning for changes to the law, to help ensure farmers do not become victims of fly-tipping.

Lindsay added that while the current Government has made major changes to planning rules, councils needed to be encouraged to allow farmers and landowners to convert traditional agricultural buildings no longer suitable for use due to modern farming practices into homes or for commercial use.

He said: “Local authorities are refusing applications for conversions of this type, particularly to residential use, even though this is often the only option that can be economically viable.

“This has the potential to underpin farming businesses and boost the rural economy.”