THE rising cost of clearing up fly-tipped rubbish is putting pressure on local authorities struggling with funding problems.
Some 70% of local authorities say fly-tipping is a major problem, according to a poll commissioned by Keep Britain Tidy.
It comes as a separate Ipsos MORI survey shows that over a third of people (36%) said they thought it was OK to do things legally defined as fly-tipping.
53% of local authorities who said fly-tipping was a major problem think that changes – including the increase of bulky waste charges and closing recycling centres - have contributed to the problem.
Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said increases in waste disposal charges and closing recycling centres had contributed to an increase in fly-tipping.
"We know that local authorities are at their wits' end trying to tackle the growing crisis of dumped rubbish," she said.
"There is a real challenge here to educate the public that not only is it not OK to fly-tip, it is illegal and can result in a substantial fine for householders and a criminal record."
The Ipsos MORI nationwide survey revealed that 47% of people don't know that they're responsible in law if their waste is fly-tipped by a third party.
Some 36% of people think it is acceptable to get rid of an unwanted sofa or mattress in a way that is legally classed as fly-tipping.
The latest figures show there were more than 900,000 reported fly-tipping incidents in 2014/15 – costing local councils in excess of £50million a year to deal with.
Keep Britain Tidy has launched an action plan to tackle the blight of fly-tipping to raise awareness that people have a legal duty of care to dispose of waste properly.
To deliver this plan, the group wants councils and waste contractors to team up with Keep Britain Tidy experts to tackle fly-tipping at local level where communities are being hit.
Keep Britain Tidy is also are calling on the government to direct revenue generated through the landfill tax to local authorities to support a free collection and recycling service.
It says this would enable local authorities to remove charges that might be contributing to increases in fly-tipping.
Currently, the maximum fine for fly-tipping in the magistrates' court is £50,000 or 12 months in prison but 95% of the fines issued are less than £1,000.
Keep Britain Tiday says there should be a review of and report on the application of the sentencing guidelines when it comes to the fly-tipping fines handed out by magistrates.
Ms Ogden-Newton said: "We believe that much can be done to support those agencies in the front-lines acting on fly-tipping.
"This is a growing problem but our action plan, if adopted by Government and law enforcement agencies at all levels, will make a real difference."
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