A PILE of asbestos, dumped by a Peeblesshire roadside, has been safely removed.

But it cost Scottish Borders Council over £1,000 to dispose of the dangerous material as specialist contractors had to be called in.

The cost and prevalence of so-called fly-tipping has angered the local councillor who made the grim discovery.

Councillor Gavin Logan (Tweeddale East) was out walking his dogs on the D83/1 road between Ashiestiel and Walkerburn when he saw what he thought was a pile of builders rubble and plaster board spilling out of a plastic bag.

“It’s not the first time I’ve seen stuff, including mattresses and fridges, illegally dumped at the side of this road,” he explained.

“As I have done in the past, I reported it to Scottish Borders Council the following day.” A meeting of Clovenfords Community Council discovered what happened next.

SBC’s neighbourhood services officer Jason Hedley said staff sent to remove the material had realised it was asbestos. As a result, a firm of specialists had to be called in at a cost in excess of £1,000.

The incident prompted SBC to issue the following statement: “Fly-tipping in any form is unacceptable, but the illegal dumping of asbestos in particular is a costly and potentially dangerous action which could jeopardise the environment and present risks to humans and animals.

“We would appeal to the public not to carry out such acts with anyone caught facing fines of up to £40,000 or six months’ imprisonment. Members of the public can play their part by reporting any incidents on publicly owned land to the council.” Councillor Logan told us: “With so many community facilities in place for taking rubbish, there is simply no excuse for fly-tipping which is such a blight on our countryside, our environment and our tourism.

“This single incident shows it is also placing an unacceptable strain on limited council funds. We need the cooperation of the public, but we also need much tougher penalties, properly enforced.” Despite SBC dealing with more fly-tipping incidents – 382 in 2013/14 compared to 285 the previous year – not a single criminal prosecution has taken place over the last three years.

The specific costs to the council are not available as dealing with illegal dumping is considered part of the daily operations of neighbourhood services.

But last year’s catalogue of fly-tipping saw SBC calledin to remove 18 animal carcasses, 44 white and electrical goods, 111 items of furniture, 31 tyres, 112 domestic bin bags and three chemical drums. Most of the dumping took place in laybys or outside farm gates.

“That is why it is so important for anyone who witnesses this anti-social practice to immediately report it,” said Mr Logan.

Incidents of fly-tipping on publicly owned land should be reported to the council on 0300 100 1800.

Anyone who suspects illegal dumping on privately-owned land should contact the Dumb Dumpers helpline on 08452 30 40 90 or report it online at www.dumbdumpers.org