THE equivalent weight of 525 double decker buses was fly-tipped across Darlington borough alone last year, it has been claimed, despite ongoing efforts to tackle offenders.

A study by waste removal company has concluded 2019 saw 101.9 million kilos of waste deposited on places such as lay-bys, roadsides and parks in the North-East.

One of the worst affected areas was Redcar and Cleveland, where 10.2 million kg of rubbish was dumped. With 5.7 million kg of waste fly-tipped, Darlington saw more dumped than in Stockton, Middlesbrough or Hartlepool.

The study claimed in Darlington alone there were 275 kilos of rubbish dumped from single black bag incidents and more than two million kilos dumped from tipper lorries.

It also stated, the findings based on government data, showed the overall number of fly-tipping incidents across the country had increased by eight per cent from the previous year.

In 2018, after Darlington saw the number of incidents in which truck-loads of rubbish – usually comprising household items such as furniture or mattresses – rose by more than 110 per cent , an intelligence-led strategy was launched to tackle the issue.

Councillors were told the fresh approach would see a data analyst examining fly-tipping problem areas and that the authority would seek to prosecute fly-tippers whenever it had evidence.

Darlington Borough Council’s leader Councillor Heather Scott said while the authority did not recognise the figures from the study, the authority remained determined to tackle those who brought misery to the borough’s communities.

She said those found to have fly-tipped faced a £50,000 fine or prison sentence.

Cllr Scott said: “We are doing everything in our power to stop it. I would urge Darlington’s communities to report any suspicions they have about dumping of waste to us. We need to send a very strong message that this will not be tolerated.”

She dismissed suggestions that increases in charges at council waste centres could be linked to the large volumes of waste being dumped as the “excuse” of unscrupulous traders.

However, the council’s Green Party leader, Councillor Matthew Snedker called for the authority to launch a review of best practice at other councils over waste management and whether it was related to fly-tipping.

Cllr Snedker added: “Residents have got to understand they have a responsibility in that the person they employ to take away their waste is registered. If your rubbish is dumped by someone breaking the law you could find yourself pursued over it.”

The study comes just days after a new national fly-tipping task force, the Joint Unit for Waste Crime, was launched to bring together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators and the National Crime Agency.