By Denna Bowman
Criminal gangs and unscrupulous waste carriers have helped to turn a countryside community into one of the worst places in Northumberland for large scale tyres fly-tipping.
Widdrington has been highlighted as a black spot for the problem in a new report by the Environment Agency.
The organisation believes criminal gangs and unscrupulous waste carriers are the biggest culprits, and the number of incidents recorded by the agency in Northumberland has shot up from 69 in 2009 to 96 during 2010/11.
A further 14 smaller size tips were reported to Northumberland County Council.
Surveillance will be carried out to try to catch those responsible, while the council and Environment Agency are working with Northumbria Police to investigate vehicles that are carrying waste, as well as small unlicensed garages.
Environment Agency 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 most tyre fly-tipping takes place in November, January and February. Other hot spots are Prudhoe, Cramlington and Ashington.
While the Environment Agency deals with large scale, hazardous fly-tipping, small scale incidents are tackled by local authorities.
County Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services Alan Thompson said: “Tyre tips and other fly-tipping can blight our beautiful county.
“We are pleased to be working with the Environment Agency and the police, as well as with local communities, to identify the perpetrators and stop this damaging criminal activity.”
Householders and businesses have a legal duty of care to check that people removing their waste are allowed to do so and a list of registered waste carriers can be found on the Environment Agency’s website.
Anyone failing to carry out proper checks could face an unlimited fine, while fly-tippers could be liable for a £50,000 fine or imprisonment.
To report fly-tipping in confidence call 0800 807060, or contact the county council on 0845 600 6400.