Fly-tippers are going unpunished for spoiling the north-east’s scenic landscapes, new figures have revealed.
The shock statistics, released by the Tories, revealed that out of 600 cases in Aberdeenshire just one person has been convicted in the courts since 2005.
The figures have prompted calls for more “robust” rules to be introduced to ensure the region’s natural environment is better protected.
Currently, perpetrators can be prosecuted under environmental protection legislation and can also be given a fine through anti-social behaviour laws.
However, the majority of the cases the authority has dealt with have resulted in enforcement notices or warnings.
Over the past 13 years, just four reports have been submitted to the procurator fiscal. Two made it to court, with one resulting in a fine and another was not proven.
There have been a number of incidents of illegal dumping in the north-east in recent months.
In July, there was outrage after waste – including a car – was discovered at beauty spot Stirling Hill, near Boddam.
And earlier in the year there was anger after piles of waste, including food wrappers, cardboard boxes and black bags, were left strewn near a track at Blackhills outside Peterhead.
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Alexander Burnett, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MSP, first became aware of the issue after his constituents raised concerns about unauthorised dumping at the car park at Mulloch Wood, near Banchory.
Mr Burnett has called on the Scottish Government to overhaul the legislation to ensure the courts are better equipped to clamp down on the problem.
“The council does all it can to crack down on this behaviour, but this is a crime that is notoriously difficult to prosecute,” he said.
“These figures illustrate how rare it is for someone to be punished in the courts for illegal dumping.
“The Scottish Government should be reviewing to make sure that the legislation as it stands is robust enough to deal effectively with this problem, which is a blight on our beautiful countryside.
“In the meantime, I would urge people across the north-east to make use of the many recycling facilities that Aberdeenshire Council operates.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government supports action to deter people from flytipping which is an illegal, selfish and wholly unnecessary activity.
“Appropriate disposal facilities exist across Scotland to ensure we can dispose of our waste in ways which are safe for the local community and the environment.”