Conviction rates for fly-tipping in Scotland have hit a 10-year low, despite the problem blighting communities across the country.
New figures have revealed just 17 people were convicted in 2019/20 for fly-tipping offences, despite high-profile government campaigns to crack down on the issue.
That compares to 21 the year before and 30 in 2017/18. It’s also a four-fold drop from a decade ago when 74 were convicted.
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Maurice Golden described the low numbers as “abysmal” and said they were doing little to deter people from illegally dumping waste.
The Dundee-based MSP pointed out a number of environmental organisations had launched anti fly-tipping campaigns but that these will have little impact if they are not backed up by the courts.
The problem has become so bad in his home city that residents were reported last month as having “given up” when it comes to the problem ever being tackled.
The latest figures were revealed as part of a Scottish Government report into criminal conviction rates published last week.
It showed last year there were 15 non-court disposals for fly-tipping in addition to two convictions in court. The majority were settled with fines and warnings.
An increasing problem
Mr Golden said: “This isn’t one of those areas where the SNP can claim the number of incidents has fallen and therefore so have conviction rates. Any community in Scotland will tell you that fly-tipping has been an increasing problem over the years.
“People in Dundee even say they’ve ‘given up’ when it comes to action, and who can blame them on the back of these figures?
“These statistics reveal worryingly poor conviction rates – now at a 10-year low – which suggests the Scottish Government just isn’t taking this seriously.
“If people minded to illegally dump waste know there’s next to no chance of being punished, they will only be emboldened in their selfish and irresponsible actions.
“These statistics don’t cover the vast majority of the lockdown period where fly-tipping got even worse, so we can only hope Scotland’s justice system has bucked up its ideas in that time.
“The environment in and around Dundee will be damaged considerably if this problem isn’t tackled head on, and that will make life extremely challenging for people living here.”
We reported in April how torched sofas, dumped furniture and broken glass had become “part and parcel” of living in Lochee, according to local residents.
They said they had become so fed up of complaining about the issue to officials that many of them had “given up” on it ever being addressed.
Meanwhile piles of waste have been spotted dumped at the former air station in Montrose and in March, asbestos sheets were dumped at various locations across Fife, prompting authorities to express serious safety concerns.
In February, it emerged the Scottish Government had failed to collect a single penny from those caught illegally dumping waste by using a new tax power that was introduced five years ago.
The cost to the public purse of fly-tipping is said to be at least £11 million a year in Scotland and there have been concerns an increase in the practice could be linked to organised crime.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has been forced to deal with trailers dumped full of waste in a trend similar to the growing problem of rubbish-stuffed trailers seen left at roadsides and industrial sites in England.
The Scottish Government could not be reached for comment.