INCIDENCES of fly-tipping have seen a huge increase in the last year, according to latest figures.

From 2016 to 2017, the North-East saw 48,996 cases of fly-tipping according to DEFRA reports - a figure which has increased to 62,037 in 2017 to 2018.

Residents have expressed their anger at the growing problem while officials warn these statistics are "just the tip of the iceberg".

The Northern Echo:

In the last year, County Durham and Redcar and Cleveland saw the highest numbers of fly-tipping, with Durham at 7,629 and Redcar and Cleveland at 5,785.

Smaller authorities such as Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton, saw between 2,000 and 3,000 instances of dumped rubbish.

Darlington councillor Gerald Lee said the issue is costing taxpayers more money each year.

He said: “One problem with fly-tipping is the cost on local authorities, which is incredibly high.

“In a time when finances in local authority are difficult we’re spending hundreds of thousands in removing a problem which shouldn’t exist.

“We have got to do something to try and prevent it. It’s getting more and more, it’s costing the tax payer an absolute fortune and usually its down to the actions of a small minority of people."

Tony Laking, of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers, said these figures were the tip of the iceberg, as farmers spend money equal to local authorities to remove rubbish from their own land.

He said: “Flytipping is a blight on our countryside – it can be a source of pollution and cause harm to humans, animals and the environment.

“So, farmers not only have to fork out for clean-up costs but have to worry about the danger it poses to themselves, their workers, their animals and their land."

Residents in the region have also expressed their anger over the rising problem.

Liz Jolly, who picked up 68 bags of rubbish within two hours at a roadside near Middleton-St-George, said she and her group, LJ Nordic Walkers, were appalled by the situation.

The Northern Echo:

She said: “We were faced with nappies, a double glazed window, a fridge, a rotary drier, wet wipes – you name it, we saw it. It was absolutely disgusting.

“You don’t expect it in this world at the moment. You want where you live to be a clean place for your family. You think, ‘what’s it going to be like in another ten or 20 years time?’.

“I feel quite angry about it. How do we stop people from dumping litter when it’s just pure laziness?”

A council spokesperson for Redcar and Cleveland said: “Our residents are rightly sick and tired of the blight of fly-tipping which costs tax-payers more than £100,000 a year.

"The Council will continue to prosecute anyone caught illegally dumping waste and we have five dedicated street cleaning Action Teams with trained enforcement officers on daily patrol.

"There is no excuse for this crime and anyone caught will be prosecuted.”

Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s head of environment, said: “This figure should be viewed in the context of us serving one of the largest areas of any council in the country, making it inevitable our number of incidents will be typically higher than that of authorities with smaller catchments.

“It nevertheless represents a 21 per cent fall in the illegal dumping of waste since our nationally recognised anti-fly-tipping campaign Operation Stop It began and this downward trend, against the backdrop of a national increase, is continuing.

“We are passionate about our beautiful county and keeping it that way and that is why we take a pro-active approach through the campaign.  Neighbourhood wardens and covert cameras are regularly deployed at hotspots, resulting in many successful prosecutions, fixed penalties being paid and vehicles seized and crushed.

“We also strive to raise awareness among residents and businesses on their responsibilities to the environment, including how to correctly dispose of their waste. As well as many private outlets, companies can also take commercial rubbish to our newly refurbished household waste recycling centre at Stainton Grove and our waste transfer stations at Annfield Plain, Thornley and Heighington Lane.”