Would-be waste criminals are now being threatened with the seizure of their vehicles, in a bid to discourage further damage to County Durham’s environment.
Durham County Council, as part of the multi-agency ‘Operation: Stop It’ campaign, is anticipating that the use of these powers will deter people using vehicles to dump waste illegally.
Environmental legislation gives Durham County Council the authority to seize vehicles believed to be involved in waste crime offences, including flytipping, collecting, and disposing of waste without a licence.
Any vehicle involved in waste crime can be detained for up to 15 working days whilst investigations or criminal proceedings are taking place.
All vehicle seizures must be published, by law, on the authority’s website.
The latest enforcement drive follows a seizure of a White Ford Transit side pickup in Bishop Auckland earlier this month for a waste related offence.
Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We’re always encouraging people to act responsibly and dispose of their waste legally; whether this is by using a household waste recycling centre, booking a council bulky waste collection or using a registered waste carrier to collect waste from your door.
“However, a minority of people still break the law by carelessly dumping waste or operating as a waste collector without the correct paperwork, but there are tough consequences and we can seize the vehicles used for such offences.
“Without access to a car or van they may not be able to travel to work or attend essential appointments.
“We urge all people to do the right thing and get rid of waste legally.
“Never be tempted to fly tip as the consequences could impact heavily upon you and your family.”
As the seizure authority, the council may sell, destroy, or otherwise dispose of the seized vehicle once the seizure notice has been published and:
a) the claim period has ended and no claim was made; or
b) a claim was made within the claim period but the seizure authority did not determine that the claimant was entitled to the vehicle.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, added: “All residents have a duty of care to ensure waste is disposed of responsibly.
“Household waste recycling centres provide the perfect outlet to get rid of your waste completely free of charge.
“Please help to keep County Durham clean and tidy by making use of recycling facilities.”
Residents across the county are reminded to always ask to see a copy of a waste carrier licence/certificate if using a ‘man with a van’ to get rid of waste.
This means the waste carrier is registered with the Environment Agency to transport and dispose of waste and it will be less likely to end up flytipped.
As well as having the power to seize vehicles involved in flytipping, Durham County Council can also issue on-the-spot £400 Fixed Penalty Notices, which can then lead to prosecution for non-payment.
For large-scale waste crime offences, perpetrators can face an unlimited fine amount or imprisonment.
Check whether a tradesperson is registered to collect and dispose of your waste at www.gov.uk/find-registered-waste-carrier
Report flytipping or unlicensed waste carriers online visit www.durham.gov.uk/flytipping
Alternatively, to book or find out about waste and recycling services by telephone, please call 03000 261 000 during office hours.