Flytipping has soared since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, according to an app created to combat the illegal dumping of rubbish.

Millionaire businessman Martin Montague says his ClearWaste app is being bombarded daily with hundreds of photographs from across the UK.

He said: In the first week of the lockdown we saw a rise of 54% nationwide compared with the figure for the previous week. By Easter flytipping reported to us was up 75%.

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It’s a horrible, disgusting practice because it puts people’s lives in danger. Not only have we seen lanes and roads blocked to emergency vehicles, but it also poses a risk to the council staff or farmers who have to clear it up.

I understand why it is happening – people are at home with more time on their hands and they are doing more, building work, replacing fences, alterations, gardening and so on. And the sun’s out.

With most waste recycling centres closed you need to hang on to this stuff until the lockdown is over, but many people just aren’t prepared to do that.

Mr Montague created the app after being a victim of a flytipping scam, paying what he thought was a licensed operator to remove waste which he later discovered was simply dumped near his home in Hampshire.

His app allows those who find flytip sites to take and upload photographs which his staff pass on to the relevant council.

Household bin collections have continued through the lockdown, though more than a quarter of councils have stopped collecting garden waste.

Mr Montague showed me two recent flytips close to his home, one a heap of mostly tree branches and old fencing blocking a narrow country lane and the other a bigger dump of concrete, metal and tyres left on the edge of a wheat field.

The second pile included what looked like sheets of corrugated asbestos, perhaps from an old garage roof, potentially hazardous and in need of specialist and expensive removal by experts.

The government wants waste recycling centres to stay open, but most have closed because of the difficulties in ensuring social distancing rules.

Local authorities say they are discussing with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) any opportunity to reopen them.

Cllr David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: With government the LGA is looking at exploring ways in which, on a limited basis, recycling centres can be reopened, but until such times as announcements are made we must insist that people keep their waste on household premises.

Rubbish dumped illegally on private land is the responsibility of landowners who must bear the cost of removing it.

Sarah Lee, head of policy at the Countryside Alliance, said: Flytipping is particularly increasing for landowners and farmers, where people are coming out and putting it on their fields.

They have a double jeopardy where they have a legal responsibility to dispose of the waste and the cost to them can be huge.

They don’t want to spend their time doing that when they are too busy trying to feed the nation to bother to clear up flytipping.

Anyone caught flytipping risks prosecution and up to five years in jail or a maximum fine of £50,000.

A Defra spokesperson said: Flytipping blights communities, spoils our countryside, and poses a risk to human health and the environment.

We all have a role to play in keeping our environment clean and now more than ever people must work together to support their communities during this challenging time.

(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: ‘Disgusting’ flytipping soars during lockdown