Fly-tippers are dumping rubbish across South Yorkshire nearly 80 times a day – leaving taxpayers to foot clean-up bills running into millions of pounds.
New figures have revealed more than 28,400 recorded incidents of fly-tipping around the region during 2013/14 – with councils having to pay more than £1.5 million in clearance costs.
Criminals dumped everything from fridges and electrical appliances to vehicle parts, tyres and even dead animals on roadsides, footpaths and private land.
More than 200 of the dumped loads contained potentially-fatal asbestos.
The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs figures are a slight improvement on 2012-13 – when more than 30,700 incidents were recorded in South Yorkshire, with £1.52m spent on cleaning up.
Last year, Sheffield Council highlighted the city’s derelict Ski Village site as a ‘hot spot’ for fly-tippers.
But the vast majority of fly-tippers in the region are going unprosecuted.
* Today’s other top stories:
Defra’s figures showed South Yorkshire councils spent a collective £235,000 on investigating incidents last year – but less than £6,000 worth of fines were handed out.
Only 40 people were prosecuted for fly-tipping last year across South Yorkshire – the same number as in 2012-13.
In Sheffield, more than 18,000 fly-tipping incidents were recorded last year – costing £808,000 to clean up. The figure is lower than in 2012-13, when £910,000 was spent cleaning up more than 21,700 incidents.
While the council spent £79,200 investigating incidents last year, only 25 people were prosecuted, and fines totalling less than £2,000 were handed out.
Sheffield Council has said there has already been 18 successful prosecutions in 2014-15 - with more on the cards.
Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for environment, recycling and streetscene at Sheffield Council, said: “We are doing all we can to prevent fly-tipping and to go after the ignorant criminals who commit this crime.
“We will continue to do everything possible to identify, locate and prosecute fly-tippers.
“There is no excuse for fly-tipping whatsoever.”
Last year there were also 2,926 reports of fly-tipping in Rotherham, where it cost £189,000 to get rid of the rubbish, and 2,162 incidents in Barnsley, where council taxpayers forked out £178,000 in clearance expenses.