THE North-East is amongst the worst regions in the country for fining fly-tippers.

According to the latest Government data, just 0.39 per cent of fly-tipping incidents in the North-East during the financial year 2019-20 resulted in a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Of the 60,531 incidents, 238 fines were handed out specifically for fly-tipping.

The figure stood at 0.35 per cent in the West Midlands, the lowest of English regions.

Yorkshire and the Humber, where there were 91,481 incidents, also ranked in the bottom three for penalties, handing out 423 fines for 0.46 per cent of incidents

This is compared with London, where 9,117, or 2.53 per cent, of its 360,080 incidents resulted in fines.

North-East environmentalists have called for action.

Hartlepool Council reported the lowest number of incidents in the North-East, at 1,586, but the highest percentage of those resulting in a fine with 11 fines being given out specifically for flytipping, 0.69 per cent.

The councils puts this down to its collaborative approach internally and within the community.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “Fly-tipping is a nationwide problem.

“Making it easier for people to report fly-tipping, together with the introduction of more coordinated ways of working between the council’s cleansing and enforcement teams has improved how we now deal with this issue.

"Whilst we still have a significant number of fly-tipping and waste disposal incidents in Hartlepool, initiatives such as targeted action days in known problem locations and the use of CCTV cameras have resulted in more enforcement action."

The council has also established a collaborative fly-tipping group to tackle issues associated with the crime.

The group, which includes representatives of local environmental groups such as Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up and Plastic Free Hartlepool, has developed an approach of prevention, education and enforcement.

The spokesperson added: "Overcoming months, we will be introducing a number of initiatives with the aim of preventing fly-tipping and, where it occurs, prosecuting those found to be responsible.

"Work has already started with the placement of a number of barriers in identified rural spaces that had become regular tipping spots.”

Official data shows of the 1,920 incidents in Stockton, no fines were issued. Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, however, disputes the figures.

Councillor Steve Nelson, cabinet member for access, communities and community safety, said: “We don’t recognise these figures and we’ll be contacting Defra to make sure they are corrected.

“We actually issued 14 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping offences over this period, while having the second-lowest number of incidents in the region, which is the highest pro-rata percentage of penalties issued against incidents recorded.

“We are proactive with our efforts to tackle fly-tipping with 40 FPNs issued in the last financial year [2020-21] and a dedicated team focussing on this blight in our communities using CCTV and enforcement powers."

Newcastle is second in the region for both the highest number of incidents (11,580) and the number of fines handed out (0.61 per cent). 

Jacky Doran from environmental group Climate Action Newcastle, which runs litter picks in the area, said local authorities across the region need to take more action.

She said: “We need increased fines for fly-tipping and littering, wherever it happens, but we also need a change in attitude.

"More frequent lockdown local cycle rides have highlighted the appalling fly-tipping along our roads for many. This is partly because of the temporary closure of waste disposal sites, prioritisation of staff and funds to other duties during the pandemic, and no one wanting to pick up litter in the street or park because of the risk of contamination

“But with lockdown soon to end we need everyone to have a zero-tolerance on careless disposal of rubbish. People can put pressure on local councils to prioritise cleaning of roadsides and prosecute littering and fly-tipping. Write to our MP to ask for support.

"Cash strapped councils need to re-evaluate the cost of clearing up against the charges they make for waste collection of large items, garden waste, and taking a van or trailer to the tip. Making it easier for people privately or commercially to dispose of items correctly will save money in cleanups in the longer term.

“But we can set examples as individuals. Only employ contractors who can show duty of care for disposal of waste rather than the cheapest quote, and organise or join litter picks in your area, park or local school.”

Here is a full rundown for each local authority in the North-East, according to government data.

Hartlepool - 1586 incidents, 11 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.69 per cent)

Newcastle upon Tyne - 11580, 71 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.61 per cent)

Gateshead - 7804, 43 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.55 per cent)

County Durham - 6125, 26 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.42 per cent)

Sunderland - 8829, 36 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.41 per cent)

Redcar and Cleveland - 4904, 19 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.39 per cent)

North Tyneside - 3391, 11 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.32 per cent)

Northumberland - 5041, 9 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.18 per cent)

Darlington - 2838, 5 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.18 per cent)

South Tyneside - 4400, 5 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.11 per cent)

Middlesbrough - 2113, 2 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.09 per cent) 

Stockton-on-Tees - 1920, 0 fines specifically for fly-tipping (0.00 per cent) [disputed]