Fly-tippers in the Burnham-On-Sea area face higher fines from the start of July, it has emerged this week.

New guidelines for fly-tipping will come into force in all Somerset courts from 1st July which could mean far higher penalties for the worst offenders.

National guidelines for fly-tipping and other environmental crimes have been drawn up by the Sentencing Council after a review concluded that fines were too low in some cases and did not reflect the gravity of the offences committed.

The new guidelines could lead to jail terms and penalties of up to £3million for the most serious cases, with lower level criminals facing fines or community sentences.

Amid concerted action by to tackle fly-tipping, Somerset’s magistrates have consulted about the new guidelines in recent cases before imposing fines, surcharges and costs.

Sentencing Council member and magistrate Katharine Rainsford said the guidelines “ensure that sentences hit offenders in their pocket” as “these crimes are normally about making or saving money at the expense of the taxpayer.”

She added: “They also undermine law-abiding businesses in the waste management industry who are contributing to economic growth. Illegal disposal of hazardous waste not only causes damage to the environment but puts people’s health at risk as well.”

Assisted by the new sentencing guidelines, the latest efforts by Sedgemoor District Council in the Burnham area to clamp down on fly-tippers include extra equipment, additional warning signs, close police liaison, and further training for enforcement officers.

Further Somerset prosecutions for fly-tipping and duty-of-care failures – when refuse taken by others is dumped because householders or businesses did not check they were licensed to carry waste – are expected in the coming weeks and months.

The new guidelines apply to individuals aged 18 and older and organisations sentenced on or after 1 July 2014, regardless of the date of the offence. They cover a range of waste disposal offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

Details of all recycling sites, their opening hours and the materials they take can be found on Burnham-On-Sea.com or by calling Somerset Direct on 0845 3459188.