Fly-tippers in Scotland escape punishment almost all of the time, new figures show
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There were 207,960 reports of rubbish being dumped between 2019/20 and 2021/22, but the Scottish Liberal Democrats said just 2,467 fines were handed out. And the party, which obtained the data from local authorities across Scotland using freedom of information powers, said that just 45 were referred to the Procurator Fiscal. It means just 1.2 per cent of reports resulted in a fixed penalty notice or have been referred.
The party's communities spokesman, Willie Rennie, has called for more to be done to end Scotland's fly-tipping blight.
"We need to see local authorities using the powers at their disposal to clamp down on this disgusting behaviour and ensure that repeat offenders especially feel the full force of the law," he said.
"From remote beauty spots to busy cities, these figures show that fly-tipping is a blight on our beautiful country. Not only that but it can prove catastrophic for animals, plants and soil."
Glasgow City Council reported the highest number of incidents with 67,219 but issued just 209 fines. City of Edinburgh Council recorded 35,038 in the three-year period, while Fife Council logged 11,711, according to the FOI data.
Some councils, such as Edinburgh's, did not hold data on the number of fines handed out and others did not hold data on how many convictions were secured, if any. But, according to the party's data, only six of the local authorities in Scotland had passed cases to the Procurator Fiscal and only East Dunbartonshire had obtained a conviction.
Mr Rennie said: "The pandemic and the bin strikes disrupted refuse collections but there is also a fundamental unfairness in the present system, which sees farmers and other owners left with the responsibility for clearing up waste which has been dumped on their properties."
He said his party wanted to see increased support for farmers and those who end up bearing the brunt of cleaning up the rubbish. "This should use the proceeds of a new restitution order which hits offenders' pockets hard. This could see courts able to require a contribution from offenders to a new national fund available to help victims."
A Scottish Government spokesman said it was "determined to tackle the serious environmental and economic impacts that fly-tipping causes".
"We have already announced plans to more than double fines and are also looking at the possibility of extending the use of civil penalties to enforce offences," the spokesman said.
"We will also be publishing a new Litter & Flytipping Strategy in the new year, which will set how we will tackle these issues. We would encourage relevant public authorities to investigate fly-tipping on public and private land and to offer assistance to private landowners where they can."
A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: "We recognise that fly-tipping is a nuisance for the public and can be detrimental to communities. Only a very small number of the recorded incidents of fly-tipping are reported to us. When we do receive reports, we will take action where there is evidence of a crime and it is in the public interest to do so."