CRIMINALS are using Scottish farm buildings and warehouses to illegally dispose of large quantities of waste, prompting the launch of a new campaign encouraging the public and waste industry operators to speak up anonymously about such illicit dumping sites.

According to the campaign, being launched by the Crimestoppers charity in partnership with SEPA, the criminals involved are elusive and hard to identify as they typically pose as legitimate businesses, operating across Scotland’s cities and countryside, offering to remove waste cheaply and then dumping it in empty warehouses, fields or farm buildings.

Typically, this is ‘challenging’ waste that would otherwise be difficult to process or recycle and would possibly go to landfill.

The costs of these illegal dumping incidents can be significant. It would not be unusual for an incident to cost in excess of £1 million when the costs of clean-up, disposal, building repairs or demolition and public services are considered alongside the corresponding landfill tax and waste management fees.

National Manager for Crimestoppers in Scotland, Angela Parker, said: "We are asking the public and waste industry operators to be alert and speak up anonymously if they suspect or know someone involved in dumping waste illegally.

"This is a hidden crime that can potentially harm us all, whether we live in the city or countryside. We urge anyone who has information about the perpetrators of this crime to contact us 100% anonymously. We do not take personal details and we can’t trace information given to us by phone or online. No-one will ever know you contacted us," she stressed.

“When you hang up the phone – 0800 555 111 – or click ‘send’ to, you are done. No police, no witness statements or courts.”

SEPA chief executive Terry A'Hearn said: “Illegally dumping waste is a lucrative business for criminal organisations and warehouses or derelict sites are a prime target to mask this activity, out of sight and mind of the public.

“The reality is that illegal stockpiling is on the rise and often on an industrial scale," he warned. "It’s imperative that landowners carry out proper checks on prospective tenants and stay vigilant for suspected criminal activity, as ultimately the burden and cost of clearing waste falls on the owner."