Fly-tipping is costing thousands in environmental damage and clean-up costs as the number of incidents in Dorset exceeds the national average.

The number of cases recorded across the county increased by 19 per cent in the year 2016 to 2017 with a total of 2,630 incidents reported.

This compared to 2,127 cases county-wide in the year previous and 1,737 cases in the year 2014 to 2015.

The statistics were more than double the seven per cent rise nationwide as figures across the country rose for the fourth year in a row.

Director of the Dorset Waste Partnership, Karyn Punchard, said: “Like most counties, Dorset is subject to persistent fly-tipping and the number of incidences is on the increase, following a national trend. On top of the obvious damage to the environment, the clearance of this waste costs the DWP around £110,000 per year.”

Fly-tipping incidents range from dumping bags of household waste, fridges and other white goods, rubble, tyres, asbestos and even animal carcasses.

A fly-tipped fridge recently put a group of young climbers in serious danger after it was thrown over a cliff on Portland.

Last September, Dorset County Council introduced charges for disposing of specific items at household recycling centres, including ceramic goods, hardcore and tiles, although fridges are except from this charge.

Ms Punchard said: “The DWP will continue to thoroughly investigate all reported fly-tipping incidents and we will attempt to trace and prosecute anyone found to be fly-tipping on public land.

“Fly-tipping is a criminal offence, punishable of fines of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court.”

English councils reported more than a million cases of illegal waste dumping last year alone, with a clear up cost of £57.7m.

According to government statistics, councils also carried out 474,000 enforcements at a cost of an estimated £16m.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s environment spokesman, said: “Litter and flytipping is environmental vandalism, it’s unpleasant, unnecessary and unacceptable. Not only does fly-tipping create an eyesore for residents, it is also a serious public health risk, creating pollution and attracting rats and other vermin.

“Clearing up fly-tipping is costing councils more than £57m a year, money that could be spent on other services, like caring for the elderly, protecting children or tackling homelessness.”