England's fly-tipped rubbish 'could stretch from London to Moscow'
The amount of rubbish fly-tipped across England each year could stretch from London to Moscow, council leaders have warned.
The cost to taxpayers of clearing up fly-tipping rose to more than £57 million last year, up 13%, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
New analysis by the LGA shows that, in 2016/17, there were 492,139 incidents where amounts of waste the size of a small van, transit van or tipper truck were illegally dumped.
If all those vehicles were parked bumper to bumper, it would form a queue more than 1,459 miles long, with the amount of fly-tipped rubbish able to circle the M25 motorway 12 and a half times, the LGA said.
In addition to the van-loads of rubbish, there were huge amounts of black bin bags, car-boot loads and single items fly-tipped last year.
The illegally dumped waste could stretch from London to Moscow as the crow flies, the LGA said.
Council leaders want the Government to help councils tackle the scourge of fly-tipping by introducing a scaled-up and speedier approach to punishing the illegal dumping of waste on streets, alleyways, waste ground and country lanes and fields.
When taking offenders to court, councils have to cover the full cost of successful prosecutions, with any fines collected paid directly to the courts rather than the local authorities, town hall chiefs said.
Recovering costs through the fines is costly and can take years, something which is unsustainable when England's councils are facing a funding shortfall which will exceed £5 billion by 2020, the LGA said.
Martin Tett, LGA environment spokesman, said: "Fly-tipping is unsightly and unacceptable environmental vandalism.
"This new analysis shows the scale of the fly-tipping epidemic we face in this country.
"It's an absolute disgrace for anyone to think that they can use the environments in which our residents live as a repository for litter."
He said new fixed penalty powers from the Government would help.
But he said: "We need to make sure that when councils take offenders to court, a faster, more effective legal system ensures that serious fly-tipping offences result in hard-hitting fines."
And he said manufacturers could also help by providing more take-back services so people could hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones.
A Defra spokesperson said: "Fly-tipping is an unacceptable blight on our landscape, which is why we have given councils the powers to hand out on-the-spot fines to fly-tippers, and made it easier for vehicles suspected of being used for fly-tipping to be stopped, searched and seized.
"Later this year we will introduce new fixed penalty notices - subject to consultation - for householders who pass their waste to a fly-tipper, and we will continue to work with local partners to crack down on this inexcusable crime."