LARGE-scale fly-tipping is on the increase in south east Northumberland – and criminal gangs and unscrupulous waste carriers are suspected to be the main culprits.
The Environment Agency say reports to its enforcement officers in the county were up to 96 last financial year from 69 the year before, and a further 14 smaller-sized tips were reported to Northumberland County Council last year.
The agency is warning that burning waste such as car tyres can have serious pollution implications, with three of the four worst affected areas in the county being Cramlington, Ashington and Widdrington.
The figures also show that most fly-tipping of tyres happen in the months of November, January and February.
Environment Agency teams are working with the council and the police to target vehicles carrying waste and also small, unlicensed garages to ensure they comply with regulations.
Project manager Kate Halka said: “Recycling tyres costs money, so unscrupulous waste carriers are dumping them to avoid paying.
“Their criminal behaviour is not only blighting our region but costing the taxpayer and landowners in clean-up costs.
“People and businesses can help by making sure that they only use a registered waste carrier to take away their rubbish.”
The agency deals with large-scale and hazardous fly-tipping, as well as dumping connected to criminal activity, and local authorities deal with smaller-scale incidents.
Kate added: “We have been working with the county council to identify a number of suspected fly-tippers, and we will be carrying out surveillance and further investigations over the coming weeks.”
Those caught and prosecuted for fly-tipping could face a £50,000 fine or even a custodial sentence.
Fly-tipping can be reported to the agency on 0800 807060 or to the county council on 0845 600 6400.