Fly-tippers are blighting the St Helens landscape as shock figures show incidents of waste being dumped are rising sharply.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show there were 1,501 incidents of fly-tipping in the borough in 2014-15 compared to 1,238 in 2013-14 and 999 in 2012-13.
The problem is leaving St Helens Council facing increasingly large bills to tidy up unsightly dumping grounds, with the town hall spending £90,230 on dealing with fly tipping in 2014-15.
This compares with figures of £63,984 in 2013-14 and £54,212 in 2012-13.
However, despite the cost to the taxpayers’ purse in cash-strapped times not a single person has been prosecuted for fly-tipping in the past three financial years, although these figures do not include the fixed penalty notices and cautions given out for low-level offences.
The council classes fly-tipping as dumping large items of rubbish dumped illegally, with bags of domestic waste incorrectly thrown away being dealt with as littering or a breach of environmental laws.
The council strongly defended the borough’s record on fly-tipping, saying the St Helens figure are in the bottom quarter in the UK, and hailed the success of a pilot project introducing litter wardens.
A town hall spokesman said: “Historically we’ve never had a serious fly-tipping problem in St Helens. A national database currently places the borough in the lowest 25 per cent of areas in the UK for this type of incident.
“While we investigate all serious cases of fly-tipping, the culprits are often difficult to identify, making deliberate efforts to remove any incriminating evidence from the fly-tipped waste. However, we are reviewing strategies to tackle these crimes.
“In terms of littering offences, the council has just announced that its litter warden service is to be extended after a successful 12-month pilot project.
“To date our litter wardens have served 1,355 fixed penalty notices, generating a total income including court costs of more than £55,000 in just over 12 months.”
However, the increasing numbers of fly-tipping cases drew a scathing response from charity Keep Britain Tidy.
A spokesman said: “Keep Britain Tidy is appalled that fly-tipping in continuing to increase, it blights local communities and poses a risk to human health.
“It is pleasing to see the government confirm that this issue is a priority for them and that they’ve responded to Keep Britain Tidy’s call for a fixed penalty notice for littering, but much more action is needed.”
The charity is calling for magistrates to make full use of their sentencing powers, which run to fines as large as £50,000 and jail sentences lasting as long as 12 months, in fly-tipping cases.
Keep Britain Tidy also wants councils to be given the resources needed to monitor fly-tipping hotspots, take enforcement action against those responsible and track persistent offenders.
In addition, the charity says town halls need to make recycling and disposing of waste as easy as possible and anyone hiring companies to get rid of rubbish needs to make sure they have a waste carrier’s certificate issued by the Environment Agency.