A large quantity of asbestos sheets dumped on a Scottish farm has shown the "major flaws" that exist in Scotland’s fly-tipping regulations, the National Farmers Union has said.

Farmer John Jamieson was left facing a four-figure bill to have the extremely hazardous material cleared after it was dumped on his farm near Annan in the early hours of Friday morning.

Due to the hazardous nature of the material, the incident was raised as a matter of urgency with local and national agencies – including Dumfries and Galloway Council, Police Scotland, SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland. 

However, the NFU has now said limited support was offered Mr Jamieson has been left responsible for the costly uplift and disposal of the waste. 

READ MORE: Greater Manchester moves to strictest lockdown level

In addition, the NFU has highlighted how Mr Jamieson’s situation is made more difficult by the fact that if he does not dispose of the dumped asbestos correctly, he may be open to prosecution.

Unfortunately, without any identifiable content in the asbestos waste, it is unlikely that any agency intends to pursue the case for investigation and prosecution. 

NFU Scotland’s regional manager for Dumfries and Galloway, Teresa Dougall, who has been assisting Mr Jamieson with the case, said: “It’s a hugely frustrating story as almost every person that Mr Jamieson and NFU Scotland turned to about this dreadful incident shifted the responsibility to someone else. 

 “Although not wholly surprising, we had hoped, due to the extremely hazardous nature of asbestos, that someone would raise their head above the parapet.

“Not only does this highlight the lack of general support – both physical and legislative – in tackling the surge in fly-tipping across Scotland but when hazardous waste is involved, that support still isn’t available and the innocent landowner is left to carry the cost of clean-up and disposal.”

According to NFU Scotland, Scottish Government and local authorities have failed to address the blight of fly-tipping in the countryside. 

READ MORE: Green light given for 'ambitious' new Scottish Wind Farm

Covid-19 restrictions on local authority recycling centres earlier in the year saw a severe spike in fly-tipping incidents across Scotland and, despite recycling centres re-opening, fly-tipping incidents are still being recorded daily by NFU Scotland members. 

Cases have included rotting meat, domestic appliances, household waste, builder’s rubble, garden cuttings, pallets, and garage waste including tyres and car batteries.

To address this, NFU Scotland is calling for an "urgent" national fly-tipping strategy to be delivered by the Scottish Government; local authorities to provide financial assistance to help land managers clean up and prevent disposal of fly-tipped waste; greater and urgent delivery of support must be given to landowners, including financial grants to access professional waste removal services when the waste is hazardous; greater householder responsibility to ensure their waste is disposed of legally and more punitive action directed to those who use illegal waste carriers.

The union has also called for greater resources to be made available to Police Scotland, other investigative bodies such as SEPA, and local authorities to pursue fly-tippers, as well as the creation of a national database of fly-tipping, requiring compulsory, monthly reporting on fly-tipping from local authorities and figures to include information about fly-tipping events on private lands.

The Scottish Government has condemned the illegal and dangerous act.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Not only is this incident illegal, but it is also selfish and dangerous. Flytipping is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse for this behaviour anywhere in Scotland.

“Flytipping has significant environmental and economic impacts. Materials that could be recycled are lost to the circular economy and taxpayer-funded organisations and landowners bear the cost of the clear-up. We would remind everyone that all incidents of flytipping should be reported to the Dumb Dumpers website.

“The Scottish Government has provided SEPA and local authorities with the powers to fine anyone caught flytipping, with a minimum fixed penalty of £200 and a maximum penalty of £40,000 if prosecuted.

“We continue to work with COSLA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Zero Waste Scotland to address a number of waste issues, including flytipping and littering. Further measures to influence behaviour towards litter and flytipping are set out within our National Litter Strategy. We are currently considering our next steps in respect of reviewing and updating the Strategy.”