Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council says it has introduced “a number of surveillance measures” in order to combat the problem of illegal dumping.
The local authority gave the assurance after hundreds of tyres were dumped along roads in the Dundrod and Stoneyford areas last week - the latest in a series of fly-tipping incidents that have left local ratepayers footing the bill for costly clean-ups.
In another recent incident, 10 flat screen TVs were found dumped on a road near Stoneyford.
According to council figures for January 1 to December 31 2017, there were 814 reported incidents of fly-tipping in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.
The problem is most prevalent in rural areas, with so-called “hotspot areas” including Ballymacward Road, Whitemountain Road, Tullyrusk Road and Rushyhill Road.
Following similar incidents of large numbers of tyres being fly-tipped in the area in March last year, the council revealed that in the preceding six months it had to fork out around £25,000 to clean up waste illegally dumped along roadsides and on public land.
Stressing that the local authority is working with other agencies to tackle the problem, a council spokesperson revealed that surveillance measures are now being employed in order to catch offenders.
“Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council condemns all illegal dumping of material, and continues to work with other agencies to reduce the incidents of fly-tipping,” the spokesperson said.
“The council is aware of a number of ‘hotspots’ within its area that are used for fly-tipping and has introduced a number of surveillance measures in these areas.
“To date these surveillance measures have assisted in the successful prosecution of a number of offenders. It is hoped these interventions will continue to act as a deterrent to those tempted and support the evidence required in the event of a legal prosecution.
“Anyone who is identified committing an offence will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80 or prosecuted which, on summary conviction in a magistrate’s court, carries a fine of up to £2,500.”
Alderman James Tinsley said there should be tougher fines for fly-tippers in order to deter others considering illegally dumping their waste.
Referring specifically to the illegal dumping of tyres, he said businesses should be made to mark or brand tyres that are to be disposed of so they are “traceable”.
“It’s not only the man hours it takes our staff to go out and remove the tyres, but the council then has to pick up the tab for disposing of them properly,” the DUP man said.
“I think the NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) could do a lot more to clamp down on tyre businesses. A lot of businesses out there are doing a good job and doing things right and by the book, but several obviously aren’t doing it by the book and it’s local ratepayers who are having to pick up tab for clearing up after them.
“Hopefully with the use of cameras, which are picking up some good surveillance, we can make an example of one or two people and send out the message that ‘we are onto you’.”
His fellow Killultagh representative, UUP Councillor Alexander Redpath added: “I represent a beautiful rural district and to see unlawful dumpers blight the countryside with their filth is appalling.
“The council is highly aware of this issue and we are often left paying the cost of this criminality. I have long called for more effective enforcement as I believe this issue is so widespread because the perpetrators do not believe they will be caught. The council is trialling surveillance measures which will hopefully bring some the criminal dumpers to justice. I believe the deterrent effect of such measures would be considerable.
“I will continue to work with local residents and statutory agencies to keep our countryside clean. I look forward to detailed results from our trail and I’m working closely with colleagues across the United Kingdom to fund innovative solutions to this problem.”