FLY-tippers have been warned they face a hefty fine or jail if they are taken to court and convicted.
The warning came from Scottish Borders Council after piles of unwanted household items were discovered in Duke Street, Galashiels, last month.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Lothian and Borders Police are investigating the incident, which took place on July 13/14.
Among the victims of the fly-tippers is Tweedbank resident Jason McGlasson. He was interviewed by police and SEPA officers, but not charged after a document with his name on it was found in the rubbish, which included chairs, tables, prams, beds and children’s tents.
Mr McGlasson told TheSouthern: “A photo of the document was posted on Facebook and myself and my family, including my dad Mike who runs a garage in Galashiels, were accused of fly-tipping.
“It’s really frustrating that I am tarred with this, despite having no involvement. The people responsible obviously have no regard for others or the upkeep of Galashiels.”
A spokesperson for SEPA confirmed: “We are currently investigating an incident of fly-tipping in Galashiels. The investigative process prevents us from making further details of an ongoing investigation available to avoid prejudicing the outcome.
“We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that Scotland’s environment is protected now and in the future, and will take any appropriate enforcement action necessary.”
Victoria Reeves, SEPA’s senior environment protection officer in Galashiels, said householders are still responsible for what happens to their waste – even when picked up by someone else.
She added: “Around 75 per cent of fly-tipped waste is from households, so people need to know what will be happening to it.
“Anyone hiring a contractor to deal with their waste is urged to check that they are registered with SEPA and that they will take the waste to an appropriately licensed site. We also recommend that people ensure they have written details of the waste that’s collected and where it will be taken.
“If your details are found in fly-tipped waste, officers will come to you for information, so it is important you can prove who removed it from your property and help us trace those responsible.”
Fly-tipping has previously affected communities across the Borders, most notably in May 2009 when 104 tyres were dumped near the A68 at Soutra.
Galashiels councillor Bill White, who was previously chairman of Gala In Bloom, added: “We have had problems with fly-tipping in Galashiels, particularly in Langlee, where items have been thrown on to the old railway line.
“I don’t understand why these people do this because these dumped items can be traced back to them. The council has had problems before, including the incident when tyres were dumped near the A68.
“I know there are costs involved for companies getting rid of rubbish, but why not just take it to a local landfill site?”
An SBC spokesman said the rubbish remains at Duke Street as it was dumped on private land, so was not the council’s responsibility.
He added: “If you suspect someone is fly-tipping, please report it to the Dumb Dumpers stopline on 0845 2 30 40 90 or report it online at www.dumbdumpers.org.
“Fly-tipping in any form is unacceptable and anyone caught can face fines of up to £40,000 or six months’ imprisonment.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “We are aware of the incident and investigations are ongoing.”
Anyone wishing to check whether someone is a registered waste carrier can do so at www.sepa.org.uk/waste/waste_regulation/waste_carriers_and_brokers/who_is_registered.aspx, or call the agency’s Galashiels office on 01896 754797.