THE bill for cleaning up after fly-tippers in the North-East in the last year hit £5.8m, new figures show.
The North-East was the third worst region in the country, with 83,137 recorded incidents in 2006-07.
And despite a range of measures and crackdowns in the region, fly-tipping incidents rose by 3% compared to the previous year.
Gateshead emerges as the fly-tipping blackspot in the North-East with 21,051 incidents from April 2006 to March 2007, which cost £1.17m to clean up.
The figures come from Flycapture, the national database of fly-tipping incidents and enforcement action which was set up by Defra, the Environment Agency and the Local Government Association to record the incidents and cost of illegally dumped waste dealt with by councils.
A total of 22 local authorities in the North-East contributed to the database.
The most common haunt for fly-tippers in the region was back alleys, where 53% of incidents occurred. The next highest category – 34% – happened on highways and council land.
Black bags full of household waste accounted for the most fly tipping incidents – 65%.
As Flycapture only collects data on incidents dealt with and investigated by councils and the Environment Agency, it may explain low figures on private, railway and agricultural land which are often dealt with by other organisations and private landowners.
This means the fly-tipping picture in the North-East could be even blacker than official statistics suggest.
The figures for the number of prosecutions by councils varied widely. Darlington was the leading enforcer with 53 prosecutions, followed by Newcastle on 43.
But Gateshead carried out only three prosecutions, North Tyneside one and Sunderland and South Tyneside brought none. There were also no prosecutions in areas like Derwentside, which had over 2,000 incidents, and Blyth Valley, with more than 1,000 incidents.
Minister for waste Joan Ruddock yesterday urged local authorities to put more effort into combating fly-tipping.
He said: “Despite some good progress over the past year there is far too much fly-tipping blighting our streets and countryside. It’s not acceptable and councils must do more to tackle it.
“Government has a role to play in this by continuing to provide and update the tools and guidance to enable action to be taken, and the public and businesses must also play a part by reporting incidents and dealing with their waste responsibly.”
Colin Huntington, head of waste services for Gateshead Council, said: “During the last two years we have been operating a campaign of not accepting side or excess waste in areas with high density housing such as terraces with back lanes.
“The campaign has resulted in us counting all excess rubbish put out in many of these areas as fly tipping or littering incidents. Education and enforcement action has also been taken to minimise the amount of side and excess rubbish being put out for collection.”
A North Tyneside Council spokesman said: “We have issued almost 100 fixed penalty notices for incidents of littering but we need to increase the number of successful prosecutions for fly-tipping. New equipment such as covert mini-CCTV cameras, will give us the evidence we need to catch offenders.”
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Fly-tipping – the North-East breakdown for 2006-07
Alnwick 194 incidents, £11,235 clean-up costs, one prosecution.
Berwick 189, £13,569, 0.
Blyth Valley 1,097, £37,412, 0.
Chester-le-Street 777, £40, 706, 0.
Castle Morpeth 738, £44, 625, 0.
Darlington 1,911, £118,208, 53.
Derwentside 2.051, £137,281, 0.
Easington 1,086, £74,119, 2.
Durham City 640, £38,955, 0.
Durham County Council 195, £16,504, 6.
Gateshead 21,051, £1,169,558, 3.
Hartlepool 1,842, £118, 258, 2.
Newcastle 15,525, £1,658,148, 43.
North Tyneside 769, £68,602, 1.
Sedgefield 1,583, £70,201, 0.
South Tyneside 12,462, £567,575, 0.
Sunderland 8,996, £652,933, 0.
Teesdale 210, £8,764, 0.
Wansbeck 588, £35,521, 0.
Wear Valley 2,583, £164,619, 1.
Tynedale 108, £4,078, 0.