Cases of fly-tipping continue to fall across County Durham.
Levels are at the lowest they have ever been following efforts by Durham County Council to tackle the issue through education and enforcement.
In the last year, fewer than 6,000 incidents were recorded across the county, which is down from more than 8,000 the year before.
That amounts to just over 10 incidents per 1,000 population in County Durham, which is almost half the national rate.
The council has also seen a significant increase in the number of fines issued to those responsible for fly-tipping, with fines totalling more than £27,000 being issued in the last year.
As well as on-the-spot £400 Fixed Penalty Notices, the council is seizing vehicles used for fly-tipping or waste crime offences and has brought an increased number of prosecutions to court in a bid to deter others from dumping waste.
It is also planning to remove an early payment discount on fines issued, which will prevent offenders paying £180 instead of £400 if paid early.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “Fly-tipping will not be tolerated in County Durham and we are pleased to see that levels have significantly reduced as we continue to tackle the issue.
“This is an issue that our communities raise. It is important to them and to us and we hope this highlights our commitment to taking action against anyone who is found to have dumped waste and to using both enforcement and education to reduce levels even further.
“We offer a number of services to support people with the removal of waste so there really is no excuse for dumping it.
“As well as a number of free household waste recycling centres across the county, people can pay a small fee for a bulky waste collection or take advantage of one of our many furniture reuse schemes – or the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling project.”
Other action taken by the council to tackle fly-tipping includes regular ‘stop and check’ operations being carried out alongside partners to check waste carriers are licensed.
CCTV cameras are installed in areas which are known to have issues with fly-tipping and each time rubbish is dumped, officers look for evidence of who the waste belongs to.
The council also engages with residents about the wide range of recycling options available across the county.
Meanwhile, a dedicated team has been appointed by the council to clear yards and gardens and prevent the build-up of waste.
The clearance team, which has already cleared dozens of yards, takes action if a tenant or owner fails to act when instructed to do so by the authority.
Fly-tipping can be reported via the council’s website at www.durham.gov.uk/flytipping, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 03000 260 000. All calls are treated confidentially.
• Pictured above: Cllr Mark Wilkes, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change (left) alongside the council’s yard clearance team to use alongside the release.