A WOMAN has been fined over £500 in court after knowingly causing waste to be deposited at a nature reserve in County Durham.

Loreen Smith appeared at Peterlee Magistrates Court earlier this week after Durham County Council was contacted by a woman whose waste had been collected and later fly-tipped at the beauty spot in the region.

During the investigation stages, the woman explained to council neighbourhood wardens that she had paid a man £300 to remove a large amount of waste from her home and was told it would be disposed of correctly at a recycling centre.

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She had asked to see a waste carrier’s licence and obtained a photograph of this, as well as a photograph of the silver vehicle used to transport the waste.

The next day, the woman was contacted by someone on Facebook advising that her waste had been found fly-tipped at Crowtrees Nature Reserve, near Coxhoe.

The neighbourhood warden carried out a check of the waste carrier’s licence, which was found to be registered to a removal company, and a vehicle check showed it was registered and insured to Smith.

The vehicle was seized by the council and was found to be filled to the roof with waste that had been collected.

As the only registered keeper of the vehicle, Smith was issued with a Section 108 Environment Act Notice requiring her to attend council offices to assist the warden in their investigation. Smith did not attend and had no further contact with the council, according to court documents.

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Smith, 44, pleaded guilty to the charges of knowingly causing the waste to be deposited and was ordered to pay a fine of £100, victim surcharge of £34 and £400 costs.

Following the court judgement, Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We treat fly-tipping as a very serious offence. Not only does it cause environmental damage to our beautiful county, impacting our countryside and open areas, but it can block access to roads, pathways, and land.

“We know that fly-tipping is a significant concern among our residents, and we want to do everything we can to tackle it.

“I’d also like to remind people that their waste is their responsibility.

“These incidences of fly-tipping were both avoidable and highlight the importance of ensuring waste is disposed of correctly, as we will take legal action against those who are involved in the illegal dumping of waste.”

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