Over 2,000lb of toxic asbestos has been dumped in a Copeland lay-by.

The health hazard was fly-tipped on the B5345 near to Thornhill, and had to be cleaned up at the expense of taxpayers.

This has led to anger from Copeland's mayor, Mike Starkie, who said the incident could have had more serious consequences.

Mr Starkie warned that if children had come into contact with the substance, it could have proved 'highly dangerous'.

He said: “This kind of dump is not only an appalling waste of taxpayers’ money, but a health hazard too.

“Luckily this was reported to us promptly and we cleared it quickly, but if children had played with it, or anyone had tried to move it, it could be highly dangerous.

“I’m always stunned as to how people can treat their environment in this way.

"I would urge anyone who has any information on this tip, which clearly resulted from a building job, to get in touch with ourselves or the police.”

It took seven of Copeland Borough Council's street cleansing staff an entire day to clear the 960kg of asbestos that had been dumped, at the taxpayers' expense.

The flytip happened on the B5345, known as Cop Lane and the council is appealing to anyone who might have information on who is responsible, to get in touch on 01946 598300 or at info@copeland.gov.uk.

As well as issuing fixed penalty notices, the council said they can prosecute more serious cases which can result in a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment.

Copeland council added it has no jurisdiction over household waste recycling centres, these are the responsibility of Cumbria County Council.