The scourge of unsightly piles of waste dumped across East Kilbride has reached tipping point.
Police confirmed an investigation has been launched following brazen fly-tipping and wilful fire-raising at the weekend on Calderglen Road.
Firefighters raced to St Leonards around 11pm on Friday after fly-tipping on an "industrial scale" was set ablaze in the middle of the road by rowdy teens.
An onlooker described a large vehicle dumping two lots of building and household waste – one into the border of the parkland adjoining Inch Keith, and the larger pile effectively blocking any traffic from passing.
The terrifying incident, however, follows months of complaints over waste being dumped across the town.
One resident told Lanarkshire Live: "Brazen fly-tipping during lockdown has escalated dramatically not only is it an unsightly disgrace but dangerous. Quite literally fuel for the fire.
"Friday's incident involving some youths highlights the scale of antisocial behaviour. Something needs to be done, East Kilbride people deserve to have a town they are proud of. We need a task force to tackle these issues."
Alarming pictures have also been posted on social media of a burnt-out car, suspected asbestos and mountains of debris on privately-owned single track roads near Stewartfield.
A pile of waste was also dumped at the entrance to K-Woodlands with similar issues on Arrotshole Road.
But these areas are just the tip of the iceberg, with fly-tipping a blight across the town and surrounding areas.
Independent councillor Jim Wardhaugh said: "Fly-tipping is something everyone should condemn but there needs to be a change of emphasis that reflects the serious issue of fly-tipping. It needs to be a priority for the council and it's simply not.
"It should be treated the same as offensive graffiti – as soon as it appears the council should remove it.
"And if waste is dumped on private land through no fault of the land owner they are charged to dispose of it – why should they be penalised? It's also counter-productive in tackling the problem."
Meanwhile, Labour's Graham Scott is urging the public to help police catch those responsible for the incident on Calderglen Road.
"On top of the serious incident of fly-tipping there is also wilful fire raising which is extremely serious and I would ask any member of the public who has information about this to come forward to the authorities as soon as possible," he said.
And SNP councillor Gladys Miller said: "Fly-tipping has such a large impact on our local community. From a safety point of view, fly-tipping can make our streets and open spaces look neglected and attract anti-social behaviour, like the fire on Calderglen Road.
"This is the real worry – that one of these fires could get out of hand and risk the safety of the public or our wildlife."
South Lanarkshire Council says it has a "no tolerance" stance on littering and fly-tipping.
A council crackdown last month saw more than 300 tonnes of fly-tipping removed from across the region as well as hundreds of bags of litter from roadsides.
This included a haul of over 900 tyres – the the largest single item dumped across the authority.
Shockingly, 52 tonnes of fly-tipping was removed from East Kilbride in one weekend alone.
Alistair McKinnon, head of facilities, waste and grounds services, said: “The waste collected was all illegally discarded or dumped highlighting the extent of environmental crime across South Lanarkshire. Worse still, many see such action as a victimless crime; nothing could be further from the truth.
"This completely avoidable additional work cost the council £96,479, a sizeable amount of council tax payers’ money that could have been much better spent."
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson added: “We would like to urge everyone to store or dispose of rubbish and waste responsibly to reduce the chances of deliberate fire-setting.
“Deliberate fires have the potential to cause injury and even death or cause devastating damage to our environment and properties.”
Anyone with information about deliberate fire-raising should contact the free and confidential Crimestoppers helpline on 0800 555 111.