Council bosses are sending hundreds of library books to be dumped in a landfill site because it is not viable to recycle them, they say.

The move by Wiltshire County Council, which spends thousands of pounds a year encouraging people to recycle, has been attacked by environmental campaigners and charity workers.

More than 300 fiction and children's books deemed surplus to requirements were dumped in a skip outside Chippenham Library this week.

One library worker said: "This is outrageous - it is so wasteful. In a time when we are being told to recycle by the council, they themselves are disposing of waste in one of the most environmentally damaging ways."

Green Party member Derek Quinn, who is also the director for the Wiltshire Wood Recycling group, said: "When I went to look in the skip it was full of books and some were brand new. I took some home with me because they were in great condition.

"It is not only books going into the landfill - it's my council tax as well."

Shelia Veech, of Friends of the Earth, said: "I am horrified that they would throw these books out - surely someone must want them.

"There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour, especially by the council who should lead by example."

The council's stock manager David Green said they had no choice but to dump the consignment because at the moment they had too many books to recycle.

He said: "In the first instance we would always try and sell the books for a reasonable commercial value and, if this wasn't possible, we would then try to recycle them.

"The problem is the council only has one contractor to deal with this sort of recycling and at present it isn't a viable solution. Recycling is not cheap, but we are hoping in 12 months time we will be able to recycle all library books.

"At this time there isn't a green solution in place."

Kelly James, manager of the Dorothy House Appeal shop on New Road, said: "We would have happily taken the books to sell, but instead they will just rot under grass in our countryside."

A spokesman for the waste management team at the council, said: "Wiltshire has a good record for recycling. We encourage people to recycle as much as they can, but in some circumstances that is not always possible."