TWO hundred tonnes of waste disguised as silage have been discovered at a disused farm in what authorities believe is the first crime of its kind in Scotland.
Police found more than 600 bundles of paper, cloth and building rubble dumped in outbuildings at Meadowfield Farm, near Edinburgh Airport, “cleverly disguised” to resemble packaged silage, according to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa).
It is thought the huge piles of dumped rubbish would have cost more than £60,000 to dispose of legally.
The incident of industrial-scale fly-tipping was thought to have occurred around the time of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but remained undiscovered for weeks because the farm is now disused.
Sepa said the culprits used several lorries and trucks to transport the waste to the farm, and would have also needed a forklift truck to position the rubbish bales into its outhouses.
Now, authorities are launching an investigation to determine who was responsible for the “well-executed” crime as part of a wider crackdown on illegal fly-tipping.
Calum MacDonald, Sepa’s executive director, said: “This is a very significant number of bales that are full of waste that have been brought to the farm illicitly and deposited without the knowledge of the owner of the property.
“When intact, the bales have the exact same appearance as an agricultural silage bale and this may be why this wasn’t noticed when the waste was deposited at the site.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said inquiries were ongoing but Sepa was spearheading the probe into the illegal dumping.
Nearby residents have been left shocked by the incident.
Andrew Mather, chair of neighbouring Cramond and Barnton Community Council, said: “I was totally in awe – it staggered me.”
Kerry Barr, of the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), said she had never encountered rural rubbish-dumping on such a scale.
“Fly-tipping has always been a problem and is nothing new, but this is very different,” she said.
“This was clever even in the time of year they’ve chosen to act. Sepa said this particular incident must have happened sometime during the Commonwealth Games, and that’s the time of year that farmers are usually on the road transporting silage from site to site.
“And so even a farmer wouldn’t have thought twice if they saw a lorry or a tractor passing by carrying these bags, because they so heavily resembled silage.
“Their plan was very clever, and very, very well executed.”
Ms Barr added that the NFUS had issued a warning to farmers across the country to remain vigilant against this type of crime.
“People are starting to go to greater and greater lengths in order to avoid new landfill taxes, but this is something we’ve never seen,” she said.
“We’ve sent out a warning to our farmers to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.”
Sepa has issued a witness appeal to aid its investigations.