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Fly-tipping: How you can help tackle the problem

Rubbish dumped at the side of the Thames estuary in Purfleet, Essex. Credit: PA

The country is suffering from a "fly-tipping epidemic", the head of Keep Britain Tidy has said.

Figures released on Thursday by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed that the cost of clearing up after fly-tippers in England hit almost £50 million last year, with more than 930,000 reported incidents.

People are angry about fly-tipping and they want more done to combat the problem, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, said, a day ahead of the launch of the Great British Spring Clean.

The initiative runs from Friday, March 3, to Sunday, March 5, at thousands of locations across the country, and will see people turn out in force to take a stand against the blight of fly-tipping and rubbish dropping.

The scheme is free to take part in and people can register and search for events on its website.

You can find the clean-ups going on in your area by entering your postcode and searching the interactive map.

There are thousands of events going on across the country Credit: Great British Spring Clean

However, rather than just clearing up after the criminal activity of fly-tipping, more needs to be done to stop it, Ms Ogden-Newton said.

Ms Ogden-Newton called for the police to become more involved in tackling fly-tipping, calling for them to do more at night to catch the criminals who collect waste and dump it in the countryside for a fee.

Some 67% of farmers have reported rubbish dumped on their land.

Making people aware that it is a criminal offence, and they could face prosecution, if they hand rubbish over to unlicensed waste disposal, is an aim of the Crime Not To Care scheme which is launched by Keep Britain Tidy later in March.

Research currently shows that 47% of people do not know it is illegal to hand over bulky waste to unlicensed waste disposal teams, something the campaign hopes to tackle.

Information on registered waste disposers can be found on Defra's website.

Fly-tipping is an 'epidemic' blighting the country the head of Keep Britain Tidy has said. Credit: PA

By "cutting of the supply, we can ensure there is no income for criminal fly-tippers", and help stop the problem before it starts, Ms Ogden-Newton explained.

Ms Ogden-Newton also called for the £1 billion in landfill tax generated each year to be passed on to councils, allowing them to scrap fees for dumping rubbish at tips, Ms Ogden-Newton added.

Different councils have different fees and weight limits on what can and cannot be dumped at their tips.

However, the penalties we have "need to be tougher", Ms Ogden-Newton stressed, citing the fact that 95% of fines handed out for fly-tipping are less than £1,000, which is a "disproportionate penalty as the clear up cost is so much greater than this", she added.