Fines for illegally dumping rubbish in city have doubled

RUBBISH cheats illegally dumping trash in the Capital's streets are being charged and taken to court at the rate of one a week, new figures have revealed.

The figures also show the number of fines being issued over the waste violations has doubled.

A total of 67 people were charged under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) during a single year, far outstripping any other location in Scotland, with Glasgow recording just five cases.

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Council bosses said the volume of charges was due to the city's tough policing of dumping offences rather than a problem plaguing the Capital.

Environmental groups today said they were "delighted" that powers under the EPA were being used to bring alleged offenders to court.

The figures also sparked calls for anyone caught flouting the Act to be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law".

New figures also revealed that 932 fixed penalty notices were handed out in Edinburgh in the same period between April 2009 and last March.

That represents a large increase in the volume of the 50 fines being issued by environmental wardens, with 518 recorded for the year before.

Both residents and business owners can face sanctions under the EPA for illegal dumping under section 33 of the Act, usually by putting out waste too early or late for collection.

Most offenders are given a fine for breaking collection rules, but those caught dumping large quantities of rubbish can be reported to the procurator fiscal and brought before a sheriff.

Donna Hegarty, Keep Scotland Beautiful's programme manager said: "I'm delighted to see City of Edinburgh Council using the enforcement powers available to tackle the illegal dumping of waste.

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"The issuing of 50 fixed penalty notices and reporting of cases to the procurator fiscal plays an important role, alongside education and the provision of bins and services, in keeping Scotland tidy.

"Keep Scotland Beautiful will continue working with City of Edinburgh Council through the People and Places programme to improve the city's local environmental quality."

Gavin Brown, Lothians Tory MSP, said: "It is important that tough sanctions are taken against those that illegally dump waste, and those that are charged must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for their crimes."

The council has a team of 48 environmental wardens, who are split into six neighbourhood teams and one night shift team, who pursue illegal dumpers.

The wardens often examine bags of rubbish for letters or other pieces of evidence which can allow them to identify the culprit.

Council chiefs said the warden system had allowed them to bring far more charges for violating the EPA than anywhere else in Scotland.

In 2009/10, Airdrie was second in the league table with just six cases. In contrast, the Capital has recorded 178 cases during the past three years.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city's environmental leader, said: "The council is committed to cleaner, greener and safer streets and our environmental wardens regularly carry out patrols across the city to work with the public and reduce incidents of waste which has been dumped illegally.

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"Our figures on enforcement action is good news as it contributes towards an improved street cleanliness score across the city and makes carriageways and other areas safer for the public. Our success is due in part to excellent working relationships with Lothian and Borders Police and the procurator fiscal service."