Fly-tipping is now costing almost �1 million a week to clear-up, according to new data released by Defra today. However, from today, local authorities and the Environment Agency have been granted new powers to recover these costs from the offenders.

Other new measures in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act which come in to force today will give local authorities more effective investigatory powers to catch fly-tippers, while landowners and occupiers who have had to clear fly-tipped waste can also recover clearance costs.

A new measure providing local authorities with the capacity to remove abandoned cars from the streets immediately also comes in to force today.

Announcing the latest measures, alongside the 2004/05 data on the scale of fly-tipping from the national database - Flycapture - the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Margaret Beckett, said: "Around one million incidents of fly-tipping were recorded on Flycapture last year, costing local authorities more than £44 million to clear up. That's £44 million of council taxpayers' money that could be spent improving other council services."

But from today, offenders themselves will foot the bill: under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, local authorities and the Environment Agency will now be able to make the polluters pay for the mess they have made, as well as the costs of tracking down the culprits. "These new measures are further evidence of how seriously the Government takes fly-tipping."

In June, Defra announced the first raft of measures in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, which included fines of up to £50,000 and five years in prison for those found guilty of fly-tipping. Environment Agency chief executive, Barbara Young, welcomed the latest powers to help catch the 'waste cheats': "Fly-tipping is the work of those with no regard for public health or the environment. But with the help of these new powers we will be able to work more closely than ever with the local authorities and really take the fight to these waste cheats. The message is clear: if you fly-tip, we are coming after you." Improving the information contained on Flycapture will also be invaluable.

The database details incidents dealt with, actions taken, money spent, and a vehicle registration hot-list. Though not all fly-tips are recorded - the real cost of the problem could therefore be well over £100m - all local authorities, as well as the Environment Agency, have now begun to add information to Flycapture. This will be used to focus their efforts on enforcing against fly-tipping and preventing future incidents, rather than concentrating on expensive clearance.

The latest figures show a spiralling problem with rubbish dumped in towns. As well as adding to deprivation in some areas, and breeding other forms of street crime, the cost to local authorities of cleaning up such vast quantities of fly-tipped rubbish (250,000 black sacks alone) outside of their scheduled collections, is astronomical. Mrs Beckett added: "Fly-tipping has long been seen as a blight on the countryside, with everything from bags of rubbish, to sofas, to hundreds of tonnes of building waste having been selfishly dumped in a variety of beauty spots. However, it's also clearly a huge problem in inner cities and towns.

"Thousands of tonnes worth of rubbish are left in the streets every year, leaving many urban areas looking dirty and neglected. If we want to improve the local environment in these areas, this irresponsible behaviour cannot continue. "In April next year we will be introducing on-the-spot fines to ensure we combat the smaller, but equally problematic, fly-tips. Almost all local authorities have a variety of collection services in place, so there really is no excuse for discarding black sacks and other rubbish in the street." Also announced today, in line with the new measures to cover fly-tipping, was a new power for local authorities to remove abandoned cars from the streets immediately. Removing the need for a 24-hour notice, before a vehicle can be towed away, will help to reduce the risk of arson.