No prosecutions for flytipping in the past year
THERE has not been a single prosecution for fly-tipping in the north in the past year - despite 118 dumping cases.
The illegal dumping of waste such as scrap metal, tyres and rubbish costs millions of pounds to clean up and angers communities across Northern Ireland.
But Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has admitted that not one person has appeared before the courts in the past 12 months.
"Unfortunately there has been insufficient evidence to prepare any prosecution action," he said.
"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."
And he added: "NIEA have initiated new processes for issuing fixed penalty notices for fly tipping offences with two fixed penalty notices issued in the past months."
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.
The Irish News reported in January 2014 that environmental officers were probing 26 suspect sites across the north and that 34 companies and individuals were being investigated.
It was suggested that organised crime was involved in the large scale illegal dumping.
A report estimated that cleaning up illegal dumps could cost £250 million.
It was commissioned by the DOE after the NIEA discovered 516,000 tonnes of waste near the River Faughan in Mobuoy, Derry.
In 2012 and 2013 the DOE secured 25 convictions of firms or individuals for 16 major illegal dumping sites.
Five of the sites involved used vehicles and scrap metal and another five involved illegal waste transfer stations such as skip hiring.
Three had waste tyres illegally dumped, two involved fuel-laundering waste and a further site involved around 12,000 tonnes of landfill waste.
A spokesman for Friends of the Earth said fly-tipping was a difficult matter to police.
"NIEA’s prosecution policy is to focus on the big cases. This is understandable given it is understaffed, under-resourced, and over-worked," he said.
"NIEA should adopt a zero tolerance prosecution policy. The evidence shows that focusing on the big cases does not deter the smaller polluters, while a zero tolerance policy does filter up to the bigger offenders."