Fly-tipping is destructive and catastrophic for animals and the natural environment – yet little is being done to seriously tackle the problem.
Nearly 130,000 fly-tipping incidents were recorded in Scotland between November 2018 and November 2020.
Yet only three councils – including Dumfries and Galloway – used their powers to refer a total of 12 cases to the procurator fiscal.
Previously the number of prosecutions for fly-tipping in Scotland fell by two-thirds in 2017-2018 with only six successful prosecutions.
Now Scottish Conservatives shadow rural affairs minister Finlay Carson is demanding tougher action be taken to get the message across that fly-tipping is “totally unacceptable.”
The MSP said: “During the pandemic we have all witnessed an unwelcome rise in fly-tipping especially in the rural countryside.
“Many people took on DIY projects during the lockdown which is understandable but certainly not at the expense of dumping their rubbish illegally afterwards – that is just totally unacceptable.
“Not only is it dangerous and destructive but it is potentially putting lives at risk because farmers and the likes often have to clear it up for fear their animals could be harmed.
“It is in all our interests that any form of fly-tipping is halted and the best way is to prosecute these criminals.”
Mr Carson believes the new Scottish Government should take immediate action to crackdown on fly-tipping. He insists the powers are already there – but have not been applied properly to tackle this growing menace.
He said: “I raised the matter in Holyrood earlier this year that the SNP Government has failed to gather a single penny in tax from fly-tipping.
“Revenue Scotland admitted it had not recovered any money from illegally deposited waste despite the introduction of the Scottish Landfill Tax in 2015 under devolved powers from Westminster.
“It is quite clear the Scottish Government has been sending out the wrong message to criminals by not hitting them hard in their pockets.
“We need to seriously clamp down on fly-tipping once and for all and make sure that offenders feel the full force of the law.”
A spokesman for Zero Waste Scotland confirmed it was aware of a reported increase in illegal dumping of waste.
He said: “It is a risk to people’s safety as well as a risk to wildlife and the environment. At a time when people have fewer activities open to them it is particularly unfair that a few people are spoiling these places that others enjoy.
“It is completely unacceptable that a few people are dumping waste with no regard for those living nearby. They are committing a criminal offence that risks people’s safety, endangers wildlife and pollutes our environment.”