Figures released following a Freedom of information request show that since 2016, just 59 of the 375 fly-tipping reports received by the Crown Office were taken to court. Last month, it emerged that more than 60,000 instances of fly-tipping were recorded in Scotland during 2022.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser is bringing a members’ Bill to the Scottish Parliament, which would increase sanctions on fly-tippers and aim to improve reporting mechanisms.
Mr Fraser described the existing problem as a “blight on Scotland’s landscape” and insisted a “clear message” needed to be sent on the issue. He said: “These deeply concerning figures underline why my fly-tipping bill is so essential. It’s bad enough that such a tiny proportion of fly-tipping cases are reported to the Crown Office, but it’s extremely disappointing that just 15 per cent of these are then prosecuted.
“Fly-tipping is a blight on Scotland’s landscape – it causes terrible environmental damage across the country and impacts both rural and urban areas. We need to send a clear message to those responsible that it won’t be tolerated, but that’s not currently happening.”
He added: “That is why I’m delighted that my member’s Bill has received the necessary cross-party support to be brought before Parliament. The destructive, criminal dumping of waste in unauthorised locations is utterly unacceptable, and the lack of prosecution exposes the alarming scale of this problem. It is therefore vital that we get it on the statute book as soon as possible.
“This Bill is not party political, but a common sense piece of legislation that will strengthen the law and toughen the punishments so that this scourge in our communities can be tackled effectively.”
The Scottish Government ran a consultation on an updated litter and fly-tipping strategy from December 2021 to the end of March 2022. This included proposals to strengthen enforcement measures, including raising fines for fly-tipping from £200 to £500 – the maximum permitted by current legislation.
Mr Fraser’s Bill has already secured the support of key stakeholders such as NFU Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates. The latter previously called fly-tipping “a national shame which became significantly worse during the pandemic”, adding: “It will take a collective effort to tackle this blight and the proposals set out by Murdo Fraser MSP would go some way to providing the tools needed to deal with fly-tipping offenders as well as providing support for those who find waste – often dangerous and hazardous – dumped on their land.”
A spokesperson 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 prosecutors.
“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.”