'CRIMINAL' fly-tippers have cost taxpayers in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas more than £1.2m in just five years, sparking concerns about safety and the environment.
Fly-tipping in the area soared by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2018, totalling 30,418 incidents across Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, Winchester and East Hampshire.
New data released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) yesterday (Nov 7) revealed the impact of waste dumping in the England as incidents increased by eight per cent from 2017 to 2018.
Worst hit in the south of Hampshire was Portsmouth where fly-tipping doubled last year compared to 2012, from 646 incidents to 1,234. And between 2012 and 2017 Portsmouth City Council had to fork out £194,389 as a result.
The council's head of environment, Councillor Dave Ashmore, said: 'It is surprising how much money has been spent. That's money that could have been spent elsewhere, on other important services.
'But it's not just the money it's the danger it can pose to residents. I remember one incident a while back where rubbish from a house renovation had blocked an alleyway.
'Just walking into it kids could've hurt themselves, or someone in a mobility scooter could've driven into it. It's not just unsightly, it's unsafe.
'If people have got a smartphone they can report it on the My Portsmouth app. Or you can go on the council website or call the council.'
The statistics from Defra showed:
Although incidents had risen in Portsmouth in that time the tonnage of waste collected reduced from 357.21 tonnes in 2012/13 to 306.87 tonnes in 2018/19.
But Stephen Benton, 50, who runs a waste disposal firm in Portsmouth, claimed his business has been hit by 'dodgy' companies who can undercut him by fly-tipping.
'I've been doing this for five years and it has been getting worse,' he said.
'When I first started I would get three or four out of five quotes, now I'm lucky if it's one.
'People might have a licence from the council but could still be dumping stuff and not using tips. You can get an idea from how much they're charging.
'If someone turns up and can do a massive rubbish clearance for £100 when others have told you £300 they're probably fly-tipping.'
In Havant the Defra figures showed less action was being taken in reponse to fly-tipping. Last year a total of 883 incidents were met with 228 actions.
Chairman of Havant Friends of the Earth, Ray Cobbett, feared it was a 'near-impossible' task to catch the perpetrators. He said: 'The local authorities are set a near-impossible task as this is happening everywhere.
'This is one of the things that comes with living in a throw-away society and at the end of the day these guys are criminals.
'But they're being given business by members of the public who are not cautious enough to inspect their credentials.
'People shut their eyes and ask no questions but this literally threatens nature and is so bad for the environment.'
The statistics from Defra came from all records of fly-tipping, not just those held by councils.
No data is available yet on the cost of fly-tipping to councils between 2017/18 to 2018/19.