REPEAT fly-tippers should be fined a minimum of £50,000, according to Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner.

David Sidwick, who has been in post since 2021, has penned a letter to Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs calling for tougher sanctions to tackle the 'growing menace' of fly-tipping.

It comes as it is revealed fly-tipped waste was discovered more than 1,500 times in Dorset last year, new figures show.

The letter to the Government, signed by Mr Sidwick and his counterparts for Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire, says 'greater coordination' and 'tougher penalties' are needed in order to meet the Government target of eradicating waste crime by 2043.

They say it's time 'criminals pay for fly-tipping, not taxpayers'.

The commissioners identified five proposals that they believe will reduce fly-tipping including increasing maximum fixed penalty notices for small scale offences to £1,000 and imposing a minimum fine of £50,000 to repeat, large scale offenders.

They said: "Whilst we welcome measures such as digital waste tracking, fixed penalty notices and the increasing use of CCTV in fly-tipping hot spots, more needs to be done to deter fly-tipping which has become the anti-social behaviour of the countryside.

"With the cost-of-living crisis impacting on the lives of millions of people, urgent action is required to tackle this problem. The cost of fly-tipping on private land is estimated to be up to £150 million a year, and the cost of clearance of fly-tipping to local authorities in England (is) nearly £50 million. It is time to make criminals pay for fly-tipping, not taxpayers."

The call for action comes as data from the Department for Education, Food, and Rural Affairs showed there had been a total of 55,162 fly-tipping incidents recorded across the South West region in the year 2020/21 - an increase from 50,506 on the year previously.

As previously reported, a recent case saw a 39-year-old man fined for dumping waste at Gould's Hill near Weymouth. Daniel James Ellis had fly-tipped household waste consisting of black bin bags, cardboard packaging and a helium gas canister.

An investigation found evidence suggesting a local resident had paid £20 to Ellis to dispose of the waste at a local household recycling centre before Ellis dumped the items. Ellis was ordered to pay £520 in costs and £29 in compensation.

Meanwhile, DEFRA figures reveal there were 1,575 fly-tipping incidents in Dorset in the year to March 2022 – though this was down from 1,937 the year before.

A significant amount of fly-tipping in the area last year was discovered on highways (66%) and on footpaths and bridleways (14%).

Of the discarded waste, the largest proportion was household waste (35%) followed by household black bin bags (15%).

The data also shows £18,200 was paid by councils on removing large incidents of fly-tipping in Dorset.

About 91,000 fixed penalty notices were issued across England in 2021-22, an increase of 58% from 2020-21.

And the number of court fines nearly tripled from just 621 in 2021-21 to 1,798 last year.

The value of all fines was £840,000 in 2021-22, more than doubling the £330,000 from the year before.

In Dorset, 35 fixed penalty notices were issued last year, up from 14 in 2020-21.

David Renard, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said fly-tipping is not just an eyesore for residents, but a serious environmental and public health risk.

Mr Renard added: “Councils are working tirelessly to counter the thousands of incidents every year and are determined to crack down on the problem, so it is good to see that the number of enforcement actions has increased.

“However, penalties handed down from prosecution fail to match the severity of the offence committed. We continue to urge the Government to review sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping so that offenders are given bigger fines for more serious offences to act as a deterrent."