A MAN has been slapped with a £450 fine after a vehicle he hired was used to dump waste at a County Durham beauty spot – with investigating officers calling the act “a blight on the beautiful environment”.

Bags of waste and polystyrene were found in a layby at the entrance to Bishop Middleham Nature Reserve last July, after a neighbourhood warden from Durham County Council received information about a fly-tip.

CCTV footage obtained by the council showed a car entering the area and a man throwing items into the nearby hedgerow, with checks identifying that the car was hired by Stephen Ryan, of White Crescent, Hartlepool.

Read more: 'Flight from hell' passengers travelling to Newcastle kept 'captive' in Porto

The 55-year-old failed to respond to correspondence from the council and did not attend an interview arranged by the warden, resulting in the authority taking legal action against him.

Peterlee Magistrates Court heard how Ryan has health issues and that his partner had used the vehicle without his knowledge on the date of the incident. 

However, Ryan pleaded guilty to knowingly causing controlled waste to be deposited and failing to an assist the investigation into fly-tipping.

The Northern Echo: The fly-tipping was dumped at Bishop Middleham Nature Reserve. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO. The fly-tipping was dumped at Bishop Middleham Nature Reserve. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

Magistrates fined him £275 and ordered him to pay partial costs of £150 and a victim surcharge of £34, totally £459.

Following the court appearance, Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, condemned the actions of Ryan – while warning others from tipping their waste or getting unlicensed operators to take away their rubbish.

He said: “Fly-tipping is a serious offence which will not be tolerated in County Durham.

“It blights our beautiful countryside, harms the natural environment and is a significant concern amongst residents.

Read more: The Gate in Framwellgate Moor, Durham closes with immediate effect

“Hopefully, this prosecution serves as a reminder to everyone, not just to dispose of their waste correctly, but to be aware of how vehicles they are responsible for are being used at all times.

“We would also stress that there are so many ways for households and businesses to get rid of their waste responsibly.

“This includes taking unwanted items to our household waste recycling centres, paying for a bulky waste collection or even donating items which are in good condition, to a re-use scheme.”

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054