By Alex Kapadia
Police and environmental agencies are set to crack down on gangs who are running used tyres trade scams and polluting the countryside.
The warning comes after a series of huge piles of tyres were found dumped illegally across the far north of Scotland.
Police suspect the con-artists are under-cutting legitimate waste firms by charging garages less than the typical £1-per-tyre removal fee, loading them up in vans and ditching them in deserted rural sites.
Current rates for tyre disposal with private contractors – who hold licenses from the Scottish Environmental Protection (SEPA) to take to material to recycling plants – are around £1 for a car tyre and £2.50 for a tyre on a rim, rising up to £8 for a lorry tyre.
But the unscrupulous amateurs are attempting to persuade garage-owners and other small businesses to let them take care of removal at cut-price rates.
Inspector Matthew Reiss of Northern Constabulary said: “There have been a number of incidents across the area and we are keeping an open mind about whether they’re all linked.
“It’s clear there are unscrupulous persons running semi-commercial operations. Rather than take these things to the recycling sites they are heading out the nearest bit of deserted countryside and dumping them.”
He added: “With car tyres that are going to take hundreds of years to decompose – there’s only one word for it, which is criminal. Everyone who is paying their taxes is paying the cost because the council pays for cost of eventually disposing of the tyres properly.
“We are stepping up our operations because this is rising up the pecking order of the public’s concern.”
In the past year, no less than 1,504 fly-tipping incidents in Scotland involved tyre dumping.
A spokeswoman from Keep Scotland Beautiful said “the figures are really just the tip of the iceberg” since they only relate to local authority land.
She added: “Many private land owners such as the National Trust for Scotland, Forestry Commission, and farmers have substantial problems.”