TOUGHER new penalties for those caught fly-tipping and littering have come into force.

Scotland spends £78 million a year dealing with the two problems.

Local councils spend almost half this sum - £36m a year - on removing litter, while a further £9m goes on clearing up fly-tipping.

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As the fixed-penalty notices for both dropping litter and fly-tipping are increased, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead insisted there is "no excuse" for fly-tipping.

The penalty for both offences was £50, but from today those caught littering could have to pay £80, while the fixed-penalty notice for fly-tipping has been increased to £200.

Failure to pay can result in prosecution, with people facing fines of up to £2,500 for littering and £40,000 for fly-tipping.

About 250 million individual items of litter are cleared up every year, including recyclable items, such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans,with a value of £1.2m.

At least 26,000 tonnes of waste is also dumped illegally in fly-tipping activity.

Mr Lochhead said: ­­"Scotland's natural environment is one of our greatest assets and we must do ­everything we can to keep it clean and litter-free. It is easy to do the right thing and put your litter in the bin - there really is no excuse for littering.

"Tackling litter and fly-tipping costs us a staggering £78m every year. It's impacting on our economy, looks terrible and in some cases is affecting public health - none of us wants to see a litter-strewn environment.

"It's up to all of us to take responsibility and I'd encourage everyone to take their litter home or find a litter bin."