FLYTIPPING cost local authorities in Dorset more than £230,000 to clear up, according to the latest figures.

The data, for 2016/17, covers nearly 5,000 incidents on council land, with Bournemouth the worst affected.

There were 1,556 incidents in the borough, at a clearance cost of £47,553. Borough of Poole was hit with a £31,014 bill to clear up 714 separate occasions of illegal dumping.

East Dorset faced a bill of £36,557 for 658 incidents, Purbeck £30,651 for 426 incidents, North Dorset £21,293 for 355 incidents and Christchurch emerged relatively unscathed with a bill of £15,241 to clear up 255 incidents.

Over the county border, New Forest District Council was forced to fork out £65,109 to clear up 979 incidents of flytipping.

The clean-up cost to taxpayers across the South West totalled £2.7 million, and nationally, £58m.

The figures only cover dumping on local authority land, and William McCarter, rural director at farm insurers Lycetts, said the figures were not a true reflection of the cost of flytipping.

He said farmers and rural landowners were held responsible for clearing rubbish from their own land, at an average cost of £1,000 per incident. They are also liable if the dumped rubbish damages the countryside.

"Farmers are well aware of this issue and are saddened by the visual impact it has on the countryside they maintain, as well as it being a nuisance and inconvenience when trying to get on with their normal, daily jobs," he said.

"However, I don’t think that farmers are as aware that, should they fail to deal with incidences of flytipping on their land and it leads to environmental damage, they could be held liable under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

"With many authorities looking at introducing charges for bulky waste and organic waste collections and charging for dumping waste at council-run tips, there is a fear that flytipping incidents on farmland will increase."

Every January, councils see a surge in flytipping, with rogue residents and traders dumping festive waste, including old Christmas trees.

He has urged rural landowners to report suspicious vehicles to the police, keep fields locked up and obtain security lighting and cameras, obtain insurance cover and contact the council about clear-up schemes.

"Finally, and most importantly, make sure that any rubbish dumped on your land is disposed of properly," he said.

"By failing to remove the waste or moving it on to public land, you will leave yourself open to prosecution and could face fines of tens of thousands of pounds."