A LORRY-LOAD of hazardous roof material was dumped on a farm near Annan — risking the health of those in contact with it.
Sheet of asbestos, fibres of which can cause cancer, were fly-tipped at Broats Farm steading in the early hours of Friday.
The volume of dumped asbestos immediately restricted access to farm sheds, straw and fodder, and farmer John Jamieson now faces a four-figure bill to have it removed.
NFU Scotland’s regional manager for Dumfries and Galloway Teresa Dougall explained that, due to the risk, the incident was raised as a matter of urgency with local and national agencies – the local council, Police Scotland, SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland.
But she said that limited support has been offered and, after a site visit by the local authority, Mr Jamieson will be held responsible for the uplift and disposal of the waste.
Without any identifiable content in the asbestos waste, it is unlikely that any agency intends to pursue the case for investigation and prosecution.
Pending a crime reference number being allocated, Mr Jamieson will investigate whether his farm insurance policy will cover the cost of uplift and removal.
Due to the hazardous nature of the waste, a special licence is required adding to the cost.
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.
Teresa, 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.
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 the issue, NFU Scotland is calling for: a national fly-tipping strategy to be delivered urgently by the Scottish Government, including; local authorities to provide financial assistance to help land managers clean up and prevent disposal of fly-tipped waste; where material is hazardous, greater and urgent support must be given, including financial grants to access professional services; greater householder responsibility to ensure waste is disposed of legally; greater resource available to Police Scotland and other investigative bodies; and a national database of fly-tipping.