Convictions for waste offences drop by third since 2013
THE number of people convicted of waste offences in Northern Ireland has dropped by a third since 2013.
However, there has been almost one conviction every week for the illegal dumping of waste since 2011.
There were 74 convictions for waste offences in 2013, dropping to 48 last year.
The number had been steadily rising since 2011, when 39 people were prosecuted.
The figures were released in response to an Assembly question from DUP Upper Bann MLA Sydney Anderson. He said: "It is not acceptable to wreck our landscape and damage our environment for future generations as a result of waste. Not only does it damage natural habitats but it is unattractive looking to visitors."
Prosecutions against individuals and companies involved in fly-tipping, where waste is dumped on land belonging to someone else, have proved less successful in recent years.
In January The Irish News reported that there was not a single prosecution for fly-tipping in the north in the past year - despite 118 dumping cases.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has been involved the clean-up of 600 illegal dumping cases since June 2012 at a cost of more than £1.3 million.
A report in 2014, commissioned after the NIEA discovered 516,000 tonnes of waste near the River Faughan in Mobouy, Derry, estimated that cleaning up illegal dumps could cost £250 million.
Former Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said last year: "Fly-tipping is often clandestine in nature and usually carried out in remote areas under the cover of darkness making detection of the act and the gathering of evidence extremely difficult."