According to research by farming insurance specialists, the cost of arson attacks on farms has hit its highest point in years, with the cost of fires in the South East alone rising to almost £6 million last year.

At least 28 per cent of the fires that occurred in the south East last year were thought to be caused by arsonists, and across the UK, the cost soared to £46.4 million, which was a 27.5 per cent increase on 2017.

According to NFU Mutual, the spike was largely driven by crop fires, with the drier summer contributing to the scale of blazes. According to the Met Office, 2018 was the driest summer since 2003 and the hottest since 2006.

The most common cause of fires were electrical faults, which accounted for 37 per cent of blazes, while fire spreading from elsewhere accounted for 23 per cent of fires and arson for 20 per cent.

The East of England was the worst affected area in terms of claims costs, with a 22.45 per cent rise in claim costs, followed by Scotland, with fire costing £7.6 million. However, the Midlands, North West and Wales all saw a fall of more than 19 per cent.

As a spokeswoman for the insurer said, the figures serve as a crucial reminder for farmers to be alert to the danger of fire, and everyone working on a farm should be alert to this danger and take steps to manage the risks.

These include scheduling regular safety checks of electrical equipment and having plans in place to evacuate people and livestock safely in the event of a fire.

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Smailes Goldie Group

Smailes Goldie Group

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