THE agency responsible for managing Somerset's waste has played down figures released by Defra estimating the cost of clearing up flytipping in the county.

Somerset Waste Partnership has said the true cost of the problem, based on figures supplied by the five district councils up to the end of March 2012, is more in the region of £150,000, rather than the £303,616 quoted by Defra last month.

Defra's estimates are based on national averages but SWP's research shows Somerset's councils have been able to do the job for significantly less.

They also take into account the £48,000 paid back to district councils by Somerset County Council to cover a predicted rise in flytipping after charges were applied at recycling sites in an effort to save £1.9million a year.

Cllr Derek Yeomans, chairman of the Somerset Waste Board, which is made up of members of each of Somerset's six councils, said: “With fly-tipping levels across the county falling in 2012/13 - as we predicted - we expect the bill to be even lower for the current year.

“Most critically, Somerset County Council has worked together with the district councils to ensure they do not have to pick up the financial burden of the savings it reluctantly made and to jointly tackle the criminal and anti-social behaviour that lies behind flytipping.”