Scotland’s leading rural and environmental organisations have written an open letter to Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, calling on the Scottish Government to urgently provide clarity on how it intends to move forward its work on tackling flytipping - which was exacerbated by closure of recycling facilities during lockdown.

In the letter, the organisations have said they would like to see a shift in focus from the endless task of clearing up other people’s mess to preventing it from occurring in the first place and have made three suggestions of how this could be achieved.

Flytipping beside a road in Fife

They have also warned that every week that passes by without serious action, is another week of our beautiful country being used as a dumping ground.

In the letter, Scottish Land & Estates, NFUS, Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Woodland Trust state: "We jointly write to you to express our continued concerns about flytipping which continues to blight Scotland’s countryside and to ask you to clarify the Scottish Government’s plans for tackling this issue in the short to medium term.

"We know that flytipping can cause a wide range of problems to the natural, social and economic environment, including harm to wildlife and livestock, disease transmission, soil contamination, attraction of other crimes and substantial clear-up costs.

"Waste crime is becoming an increasingly more visible issue and we believe a new approach is needed to turn the tables on this crime for good. With Scotland expected to host the UN Climate Change Conference in 2021 we believe this offers a unique catalyst for action, to look after our environment and encourage others to do the same.

Flytipping off the Pentland Road during lockdown

"We welcome the Scottish Government’s recent review of the national litter strategy which includes measures on flytipping and its work with SEPA, Zero Waste Scotland, COSLA and councils on identifying other action which can be taken to tackle the issue.

"However, we believe there must be a shift in focus from the endless task of clearing up other people’s mess to preventing it from occurring in the first place. We believe this could happen through:

  • A coordinated strategic national response to tackle flytipping in Scotland.
  • Collaborative, cross-sector working with a firm commitment from the Scottish Government to regularly bring key stakeholders together.
  • A greater use of data to better asses the scale and impact of the problem which can then be used to help drive action at a regional or local level.

"With Scotland rightly perceived as leading the way on a range of environmental issues, we believe 2020 should be the year we must start to address this issue - now is the time to bring all stakeholders to the table and agree how we can collectively tackle flytipping.

"We firmly believe that by dealing with flytipping more effectively there are significant benefits for Scotland’s economy – as well as for society and the environment – which as we recover from a global pandemic could not be more important.  Every week that passes by without serious action, is another week of our beautiful country being used as a dumping ground."