• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

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Environment offenders warned: You will pay the price

203Nearly 700 people are paying the price for committing environmental crimes in County Durham over the past few months.

Durham County Council is reminding anyone caught carrying out an ‘enviro-crime’ that they face being hit where it hurts the most – in the pocket.

The warning comes after latest figures show that 683 people were issued fixed penalty notices between April 1 and October 31, 2015, for a range of offences which include:

  • Failing to clean up dog mess
  • Littering
  • Carrying waste without the correct licence
  • Failing to comply with a notice to clean up untidy yards or gardens

Fixed penalty notices can be as much as £300 depending on the offence – although this will be reduced if paid within 10 days. If a fixed penalty notice is not paid within 14 days of being issued a reminder letter will be sent. However, if the charge remains unpaid within a further 14 days of the reminder letter, the case will be referred for prosecution at a magistrates’ court, which could result in a fine of up to £5,000 upon conviction.

Ian Hoult, neighbourhood protection manager, Durham County Council, said: “We work with police and other agencies as well as communities to improve our environment and promote safer communities and are committed to tackling those issues that affect many people, such as anti-social behaviour.

“While enforcement is always a last resort, anyone caught committing environmental crimes should be warned – you will pay the price.”

The figures also reveal that 312 investigations linked to dog fouling were launched in the seven-month period from April to October, resulting in 88 warning letters, 42 fixed penalty notices and one prosecution.

More than 1,100 stray dogs were reported and almost 700 were passed into the care of kennels and there were 40 littering prosecutions and over 500 fixed penalties for littering.

A total of 3,767 flytipping incidents were reported and as part of Operation Stop It, the council’s multi-agency crackdown on waste crime which has seen a 31 per cent drop in flytipping since its launch, covert cameras were deployed 170 times, 25 flytipping incidents were caught on CCTV, 116 investigations were launched and 47 people were prosecuted.

The campaign also saw 98 waste carriers stopped and checked to make sure they had the proper documents for the waste they were carrying – 37 were issued with a notice, known as a producer, requiring them to provide this paperwork, 25 fixed penalty notices were handed out and there were 14 prosecutions and two criminal behaviour orders.

More than 170 businesses were investigated over their duty of care with regards correct waste disposal – eight warning letters were sent and 14 producers were issued. Sixty-seven duty of care investigations relating to households were also carried out, resulting in 23 warning letters being issued.

Nearly 1,150 untidy yards or gardens were reported to the council which led to 317 community protection warnings, 75 community protection notices, 97 fixed penalty notices and six prosecutions.

Over 400 incidents of antisocial behaviour were reported to the council between April and October, nearly 2,000 antisocial behaviour cases were dealt with, 188 home visits were carried out, 640 warning letters were sent, 1,414 incidents were passed from police airwaves and there were 938 alcohol seizures.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “These latest figures demonstrate our commitment to tackling issues that affect people in their everyday life. We want people to care about their environment and would always urge anyone who spots an environmental offence to report it to us.”

Household rubbish can be taken your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre – visit www.durham.gov.uk/hwrc for more information or call 03000 261 000 to arrange a bulky waste collection.

Residents are also reminded not to place white goods in gardens or yards for unlicensed waste carriers to collect as many items often end up dumped. Householders have a duty of care to ensure their waste is collected and disposed of by a licensed waste carrier.

Businesses can find licensed waste carriers at www.gov.uk/find-registered-waste-carrier or arrange a council trade waste collection at www.durham.gov.uk/commercialwaste or call 03000 262 660.

Environmental crimes can be reported at www.durham.gov.uk or by calling 03000 261 000. Unlicensed waste carriers and waste crime can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling 0800 555 111.

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By admin