Disgusted Hartlepool pensioner collects waste from Seaton Carew beach and dumps it outside Northumbrian Water depot - before reporting himself for fly-tipping

A former councillor and environmental campaigner has taken a drastic measures in tackling waste washing up on Seaton Carew beach – by dumping in on the doorstep of those he holds responsible, then reporting himself for fly-tipping.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 11:30 am

Geoff Lilley, 71, collected the selection of “panty liners, wet wipes and worse” and deposited it outside Northumbrian Water’s depot and then rang Hartlepool Borough Council to admit to the dumping.

The grandfather-of-five, who picks up rubbish from the beach every morning, said the waste is discharged into the sea from a Northumbrian Water storm overflow, especially when there is heavy rain, and washes up on the shore.

The Fens resident wants authorities to do more about the issue and after emailing Northumbrian Water about it for “over a year”, he decided to take action.

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Former councillor Geoff Lilley with waste on Seaton Carew beach.

On Monday morning he filled a bag with items washed up on the beach from the storm overflow pipe and left it at the entrance of Norhumbrian Water’s depot at Seaton Carew.

Mr Lilley said he reported himself to the council and is “perfectly happy” to go to court.

He said: "Hartlepool Council have a strict policy of prosecuting fly-tippers.

“Now, I am a fly-tipper. I’ve owned up to it. I want them to prosecute me for fly-tipping.

The rubbish includes wet wipes and panty liners.

"I am perfectly happy to go to court and I am perfectly happy to take the ramifications of my actions.

"I want them to make an example of me, because I am so angry about it. Why should Hartlepool residents’ families play in wet wipes, panty liners and worse?"

He added: “I want Northumbrian Water to live up to their responsibility and clean up after the mess they put into our environment.

“From now on every time I pick stuff from the beach that Northumbrian Water should have picked up, I’m going to fly-tip it there.

Former councillor Geoff Lilley with waste collected, outside Northumbrian Water's depot

"I’ve never felt so right about doing something in my life. I am absolutely determined to follow this through.”

In response, Northumbrian Water said they check the beach regularly and try to clean up any waste “as soon as possible”.

“In order to protect our customers’ homes, at times of heavy rainfall we use storm overflows as a relief valve on our sewer network – this is carried out with permission from the Environment Agency,” the company said in a statement.

“These storm overflows are connected to the environment via large pipes. Under heavy rainfall conditions, the storm overflows will discharge to the environment through these large pipes what is largely rainwater, mixed with some of the contents of our sewer network from the area affected.

“We know it is not nice for people to find some of these ‘unflushables’ and we empathise with the concerns that Mr Lilley has, and are sorry to anyone who has experienced this when visiting the beach. We carry out regular checks of the beach at Seaton Carew and make an effort to get a team to clean up any debris as soon as possible.

“In the last Bathing Water classifications released by DEFRA, 33 of the North East’s 34 designated bathing waters achieved either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ ratings, with Seaton Carew in the highest category.

“Unfortunately this is a reminder of what can happen when items like wipes and period products are flushed down the toilet – as they do not disintegrate and can cause blockages in the system.”

It added: "Once our sewers are blocked there is an increased risk of sewer flooding to people’s homes or pollution to our environment.”

Hartlepool Borough council have said they are “amazed” that Mr Lilley thinks his actions are acceptable and urged people to dispose of their litter “responsibly”.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “We are amazed that Mr Lilley thinks that deliberately dumping litter in this way is acceptable.

"His actions are completely at odds with his concern for the environment.

"The council does not drop litter, but it spends a lot of time and money cleaning it up. We would urge people to support us by always ensuring that they dispose of their litter responsibly.

"To try to keep Seaton Carew as clean and tidy as possible, the council has invested significant sums of money in specialised equipment, including a new beach cleaning machine and a number of high-tech “Big Belly” litter bins.”

In June last year, thousands of wipes and plastic sanitary products were left strewn all over the beach at Seaton Carew after a sewer outfall at Mainsforth Terrace was discharged into the sea by Northumbrian Water.

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