An appeal has been launched to find the culprits who dumped asbestos into a Devon stream.

Two white builders' bags overflowing with corrugated strips of asbestos were left in a mill leat on the River Clyst in Sowton, Devon.

It is thought the illegal dumping happened on or near November 20.

The Environment Agency said that fly-tipping is not a victimless crime since the cost of clearing up falls on the landowner.

However, in some circumstances the Environment Agency can step in.

The asbestos is now being removed and disposed of safely.

Dave Brogden of the Environment Agency said: "The burden of investigating and clearing waste from fly-tipping often falls on local councils and we get involved if the amount and type of waste is so bad it can only be classified as illegal dumping.

"On this occasion we have stepped in to sort out this problem, the result of someone showing a complete disregard to the safety of the public and the environment and for the time and resources of local services such as ours, which are already under extreme pressure."

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People that produce waste have a duty of care to make sure it does not cause harm to human health or pollute the environment and that it goes to the right place for disposal.

On this occasion there were at least three sites within a few miles of the location permitted to accept this sort of hazardous waste.

If the cost of any work being carried out is unusually low, the contractor may not have a permit to carry waste nor any intention of paying for its proper disposal.

You can check their waste-carrying credentials at environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers.

Dave said: "If you use someone to take away waste, we want you to take three steps: check if they if they have a permit, ask where the rubbish will end up, then record the details of the vehicle used to take the rubbish away. Never pay cash and insist upon a receipt."

If you have any information about who is responsible for this waste crime, contact the Environment Agency’s 24/7 hotline 0800 807060 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or crimestoppers-uk.org.