Thousands of “proactive” patrols have been carried out at fly-tipping hotspots as an environmental task force continues its investigations in Renfrewshire.

A total of 2,258 visits to problem areas were conducted by the bespoke unit from December 2022 to November 2023, with 436 tonnes of waste removed and 93 fines handed out.

A breakdown of the data was included in a report to last Tuesday’s communities and housing policy board, as well as confirmation the Scottish Government has increased the fixed penalty notice charge for those caught from £200 to £500.

Councillor Jamie McGuire, a Labour representative for Renfrew North and Braehead, said he “wholeheartedly welcomed” the step, describing fly-tipping as an “absolute plight” in communities in the local authority.

He added: “I’d like to know what the council are doing in preventative measures to tackle fly-tipping, to tackle the root cause of it?

“I noted at one of the earlier boards that the council were going to be going out to the hotspot areas and trying to catch those responsible.

“I think even the issue with raising the penalty is sometimes we don’t catch the person to give them the fine, so what preventative measures are going to be taken?”

The task force inspects evidence left in bags, searches for potential witnesses among nearby residents and monitors CCTV camera footage as it tries to identify the culprits responsible for discarded rubbish.

Nicola Drummond, lead officer for building communities, elaborated on this work in her response to Councillor McGuire.

She explained: “We’ve got a suite of cameras out there and the cameras have been used, we’ve had quite a number of fly-tipping offences caught on the cameras and we’ve issued tickets for those, for the £200. The £500 will be better there, especially when it is businesses that are fly-tipping.

“We do go out and check hotspots, we go out and check hotspots daily. If we’re there, we don’t tend to find fly-tipping.

“Really, the reason to go out and check hotspots is there was nothing there yesterday, is there anything there today? Is there a camera there we can look at? Is there anyone there we can speak to?

“We chap doors, if it’s fly-tipping in the streets and in communities, we chap all the doors of the houses overlooking that site, we look through bags.

“StreetScene attend with us and we open black bags and look through bags looking for names and addresses then go and interview those people.

“There’s only a few options available to us but we do explore all of them and investigate as thoroughly as we possibly can.”

Councillor Cathy McEwan, an SNP representative for Renfrew South and Gallowhill, said she was “really pleased” with the performance of the unit, describing it as a “step in the right direction”.