Hartlepool Borough Council has launched a crackdown on illegal dumpers after taking advantage of a change in the law to introduce on-the-spot fines.
Bosses say they are determined to use their new Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) powers to their full extent to clampdown on fly-tipping.
They have adopted a fixed penalty amount of £400 – the maximum allowed – and no discount is being offered to offenders who pay their fines promptly.
Coun Dave Hunter, chair of the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee which approved the introduction of FPNs, said: “We want to send out a clear message that fly-tipping will not be tolerated. That is why the committee agreed to set the FPN amount at the maximum level allowed and members were adamant that there should be no “reward” for prompt payment.
“Fly-tipping is a significant blight on the town’s environment and it costs the council tens of thousands of pounds a year to clear up.
“It is also is a source of pollution that creates a potential danger to public health and it is a hazard to wildlife.”
Council staff were called out to remove fly-tipped waste on 2,150 occasions between April 2016 and July this year.
Reported incidents can vary from dumped bin bags to household items such as mattresses and sofas and huge piles of builders’ rubble.
Nationally, it is estimated that it costs local authorities more than £50 million a year to clear away fly-tipped waste.
FPNs have been introduced as an alternative to prosecution under the terms of the Unauthorised Deposit of Waste (Fixed Penalties) Regulations 2016 which amended the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Prosecution, however, remains an option for the council in very serious cases.
Councillor Hunter added: “It can be difficult to obtain and retrieve the evidence needed for a successful prosecution and witnesses are often unwilling to attend court, making enforcement action difficult. The use of FPNs changes that.”
The council is urging people to support its clampdown by reporting incidents of fly-tipping or suspicious activity (giving as much detail as possible about the people and vehicles involved) on (01429) 523333.
It is also reminding residents they have a legal duty of care to ensure that their waste is disposed of correctly and failure to do so could lead to prosecution.