HOUSEHOLDERS who bung a man with a van a few quid to dump their waste could soon find themselves landed with a £400 fine.

In a drive to cut fly-tipping the Government is considering imposing fixed penalty fines for people who fail to ensure the firms they hire to take away their rubbish are disposing of it legally.

The move announced yesterday means householders who use cheap cowboy firms could find themselves paying out much more than they would have done if they had gone to a licensed operator.

It is intended to spare local authorities the cost of chasing problem homeowners through the courts, while encouraging others to check their refuse is being disposed of legally.

Swindon has been plagued with fly-tipping in recent months. In November a huge pile of rubbish including refrigerators and building insulation appeared in Scott Way, Wichelstowe.

And just last week rogue landlords were blamed for endemic fly-tipping in the Manchester Road area. Everything from white goods and mattresses to carpets, doors and kitchen waste is being left in alleyways.

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “Fly-tipping costs the council in excess of £250,000 a year to clear up, which is money that could be far better spent elsewhere.

“Our team deals with several hundred reported incidents of fly-tipping each year and around a quarter of these are as a result of a third party taking away waste from householders for a small fee and then fly-tipping it.

“Our advice to residents is to always check that the person disposing of their waste is a licensed waste carrier, while they should also ensure they obtain a Waste Transfer Note when handing over their refuse. We would also urge people to be cautious of people advertising waste clearing services on social media as many of these people are unregistered.”

And the problem isn’t just limited to towns. Old mattresses, broken washing machines and sacks of waste have also been appearing in hedgerows, quiet country lanes and field gateways in North Wiltshire.

The suggestion from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is part of a government drive to prevent illegal waste-tipping.

New powers have also been granted to the Environment Agency to block access to illegal tipping hotspots, while operators of the sites face being forced to clear up all waste left there.

The changes are expected to be brought in following a vote in Parliament this spring and are intended to cut the cost of dealing with waste crimes.

Clean up costs and lost landfill tax revenue cost the English economy more than £600m in 2015. At the same time properly licensed businesses lost income. DEFRA said household waste made up more than two thirds of the fly-tipped waste

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “Waste crime and fly-tipping blight our communities and spoil our countryside, and we need determined action to tackle it.

“These new powers for the Environment Agency will curb the rise of waste sites that continue to operate outside the law.

But we must all take responsibility for our waste to make sure it does not end up in the hands of criminals who will wilfully dump it.”