Charges for recycling at Dorset's dumps have not led to increased fly-tipping, according to the county's waste collection service.

The Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) is undertaking an anti-fly-tipping campaign - 'Tip-Off' - and says that one of the most frequent comments it has heard from residents is that charges at household recycling centres (HRCs, also referred to as dumps or tips) have been directly responsible for the illegal dumping of waste.

But the DWP says there is no statistical evidence for this claim.

DWP enforcement officer Jeremy Gallagher explained that the his team, which is out and about the county every day investigating breaches of waste disposal regulations, found that much fly-tipped waste was household recyclable waste could be disposed of free of charge at HRCs.

"Those dumped items that are charged for generally appear to have been fly-tipped by rogue traders or illegal waste carriers, such as an unlicensed ‘man in a van,'" Mr Gallagher said.

He added that tips had always been for the disposal of typical household waste, and that disposal of commercial waste had always carried a charge.

"If a tradesman produces or carries waste as part of their everyday activities, that person has always needed to budget its disposal into their business costs,” he noted.

According to the DWP, fly-tipping was on the rise before the charges were introduced back in September 2016 and, while the trend has continued, there has been no related spike in incidents since.

“By blaming fly-tipping solely on the council for introducing HRC charges, the problem is being oversimplified and anti-social criminal behaviour is being excused and normalised," he said.

"There are dozens of facilities across the county that accept commercial waste. Those who choose to fly-tip are simply looking to save themselves money. This is understandable, but illegal nonetheless."

Another complaint the DWP team has heard is that local authorities have made access to HRCs too difficult - but Jeremy rebuffed this argument.

“Our eleven HRCs are open and free to visit 362 days a year. Most vehicles – including vans, trailers and commercially registered vehicles - can enter our sites. Those that do need a permit can apply online free of charge - and approval is usually immediate.”

Jeremy said the DWP’s enforcement team remained determined to get to grips with the problem.

“We all have a responsibility to prevent fly-tipping," he said, "and the only way we can effectively fight this behaviour is for local authorities and the public to work together."