Grot Spot Britain: The rising tide of fly-tipping

The nation's canals and rivers are fighting a rise in fly-tipping. Credit: ITV News

In ITV's series of reports on illegal dumping that's blighting Britain we have shown cities, countryside, private land and public spaces.

Now the culprits are sinking even lower - down beneath the waterline.

The nation's canals and rivers, treasured for centuries, are now fighting a rising tide of fly-tipping.

This increasing epidemic is largely hidden from view - but we were given special access to see the mess it is making and the damage it is doing.

Bosses at the Canals and Rivers Trust are appealing for help, as tell us "enough is enough".

I filmed on the Rochdale canal after it had been drained to reveal the appalling extent of illegal dumping.

Carefully I picked my way through abandoned bikes, prams, car parts, domestic refuse and much much more.

During his clean-up operations they have dredged out tons of rubbish.

A build-up of bottles in Manchester's Rochdale canal. Credit: Jill Jennings

"People do literally come down with black bin bags and lift up ther boot of their cars and throw it in the canal," says John Stopp who is a volunteer helping clear up the mess.

John has witnessed the fly-tippers in action and has tried to imagine how they think "is it because we all have recycle bins and they only take a certain amount of rubbish - if you have an old mattress why not just go dump it in the canal."

Sometimes John is so appalled by what they have to pull from the water that he takes photos (some are shown below).

Credit: John Stopp

"It's just selfish people with no care about the damage done to wildlife and this environment."

Much of the rubbish leaches out toxins, can trap wildlife or is eaten by birds and mammals with disastrous consequences.

John says: "Often it's business dumping on an industrial scale."

Much of the rubbish leaches out toxins and can have disastrous consequences for wildlife. Credit: John Stopp

As local councils clamp down harder on fly-tippers on land. They are gathering evidence of addresses from the piles of rubbish. Meanwhile determined culprits have our waterways in their sights.

They know that paper will dissolve, erasing valuable clues.

Once their refuse sinks there is no visual reminder of their crime.

Removing tons of rubbish from Britain's waterways is now costing £1 million a year.

It's shameful that in the long history of our canals and rivers, they have never been in such a state.

There is a call for volunteers to help in the enormous task of cleaning up (see below) and there's a determination to bring more of the illegal dumpers to justice.

John believes the causes run far deeper than the riverbeds, "people just don't seem to care anymore about where they live".

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Fly-tipping in South Birmingham. Credit: Canal & River Trust