Flytipping incidents, described as a “huge drain” on already pressed council finances, vastly increased in 2020.

Council staff have speculated that lockdown-inspired clear-outs may explain the rise in abandoned waste.

In 2020, there were a hefty 3,195 flytipping incidents reported to Wiltshire Council by concerned residents. Freedom of Information data shows there were 2,787 cases in 2019, and 2,876 the year before, in 2018.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for waste, told the Gazette: “The number of flytipping incidents reported to us fell in 2018, and again in 2019.

"Sadly, we saw an increase in reported cases in 2020. This rise may be due to the lockdowns that occurred in 2020, which gave people more time to have clear outs and created more waste to dispose of.

“While many people saved their waste and took it to one of our household recycling centres when they reopened, the size of the fly tips investigated and cleared would suggests there were more rogue traders collecting waste and flytipping to avoid lawful disposal costs.

"Please can I remind people that waste clearance businesses cannot dispose of the waste they collect at our household recycling centres as this is commercial waste. HRCs are funded buy council tax and it is illegal to dispose of waste collected for a fee at these facilities."

Over the last five years Wiltshire Council has received 15,034 reports of flytipping

Number of flytipping incidents reported in Wiltshire, by year:

Householders and businesses can be issued a fixed penalty notice of £400 or prosecuted if their waste has been flytipped and reasonable checks have not been conducted on those who collected their waste.

Officers patrolling in Malmesbury recently took to Facebook to vent anger at a mountain of garden waste, wooden panels and even a battered sofa on footpaths. The towering waste had spilled onto the road and caused a large obstruction.

In Devizes, empty containers of cooking oil containers, plus a large empty jar of mayonnaise, were left strewn on Coate Road in December.

Cllr Wayman added: "The type of materials fly tipped has not changed, the main types remain large domestic items, commercial or green waste, but the volume dumped has increased.

“We would urge people to avoid using a ‘man and a van’ or those advertising tip runs on social media without checking their credentials.

"Please remember to conduct checks before someone removes your waste and always ensure your waste is only transferred to authorised persons (this includes garden and tree works waste). Clearing fly tips is a huge drain on our resources, both physical and financial.

"By checking and ensuring you only use authorised persons to dispose of your waste you will avoid a fine and help save us time and money.”

This Is Wiltshire: Flytipping in Calne. Photo by Siobhan BoyleFlytipping in Calne. Photo by Siobhan Boyle

Since 2015, the number of flytipping incidents referred to Wiltshire Police has been below 40, but rose to 57 cases last year.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “If a member of the public sees flytipping not on their land they can report it directly to Wiltshire Council who will act to remove items and, if they can identify the owners, may come to us for investigative support which could lead to a prosecution by the council or the police.

“If it is the person’s land, they have the issue on, it can be reported via the same process.

“However, they can also ask their local policing team for some guidance and support regarding any repeat, ongoing problems they may have.”