FIGURES that show a 60 per cent increase in fly-tipping across Basingstoke and Deane last year are "just the tip of the iceberg", according to a charity.

Statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have showed that there were more than 4,000 fly-tipping incidents in the borough in 2019-20, a 63 per cent increase on the previous year.

Fly-tipping is now at an eight-year high in Basingstoke and Deane, having risen from 2,198 in 2012-13.

But the council says that the number of incidents "did not correlate" with the number reported by the public, and that its waste teams incorrectly recorded some incidents where householders left rubbish bags next to their grey bins.

The DEFRA figures show that last year, there were 2,373 incidents of fly-tipping on roads, which is more than 2012-13 on its own.

Also, council-owned land was particularly badly hit, with a 150 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

It means there are 23.3 incidents per 1,000 people in the borough, with Basingstoke and Deane positioned 49th out of 317 local authorities across in England.

This puts the borough in the top 15 per cent of districts for fly-tipping incidents per capita.

Nationally, fly-tipping on public land increased by 2 per cent in comparison to the previous year.

Now, the Country Land and Business Association have said these numbers "do not reflect the true scale of this type of organised crime".

Mark Bridgeman, President of the CLA, said: “While these figures are alarming, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Cases of fly-tipping on privately owned land are significantly more than on public land so these government figures do not reflect the true scale of this type of organised crime, which blights our rural communities.

"Part of the problem is that it’s currently too simple to gain a waste carrying licence that enables firms to transport and dispose of waste – and this needs urgent reform with correct checks put in place. A revamped system would act as a deterrent.

“One CLA member, who is regularly subjected to fly-tipping, is having to pay £50,000 each year for rubbish, such as tyres, fridges, tents, barbecues and building waste, to be cleared.

"Local authorities need to start sharing the brunt of these costs, and taking more responsibility for waste dumped on people’s land.

“Although the maximum fine for anyone caught fly-tipping is £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment, if convicted in a Magistrates' Court, this is seldom enforced.

"Unless tougher action is taken to combat this kind of rural crime, it will continue to increase.”

According to BDBC's cabinet member for environment and enforcement, Cllr Hayley Eachus, the council has a "zero tolerance approach" to fly-tipping and has achieved 27 prosecutions since May 2018.

She continued: “We are required by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to record incidents of fly-tipping cleared by our teams. We also record and monitor the number of complaints from the public and the weight of waste collected as fly-tip.

"This gives us better insight in to any increases or decreases there may be. We take fly-tipping in the borough very seriously and have a zero tolerance approach, successfully achieving 27 prosecutions since May 2018.

"When analysing the figures for 2019 to 2020 we investigated the large increase in the number of incidents cleared by our teams which did not correlate with the number of incidents reported by the public or even the weight of the fly-tips collected.

"It was determined that during this period some of our teams had incorrectly recorded side waste left out for grey bin collections as fly-tipping. Additional rubbish bags must not be left by the side of grey bins by residents.

"The only exception is where a bin has been missed and this is agreed between our waste and recycling team and the household.

"Since determining this error in recording we have now resolved this matter and any grey bin collection side waste left is not being recorded in this way. Clearance of this is the responsibility of the household.”