One of the region’s largest social landlords is increasing its efforts to tackle fly-tipping.

County Durham Housing Group is on a quest to rid streets, back lanes and footpaths of dumped sofas, fridges and other waste.

Fly-tipping costs the group thousands of pounds every year, but through a partnership with Durham County Council enforcement action is being ramped-up; with customers being called upon to report any incidents they encounter.

New highly-visible response methods have been introduced to help demonstrate how seriously the issue of fly-tipping is being taken. It is hoped this will act as a deterrent and encourage members of the public who spot fly-tippers to report what they see anonymously.

The maximum fine for fly-tipping is £50,000, vehicles used can be seized for up to 15 days, and on-the-spot fixed penalty notices of up to £400 can also be issued.

County Durham Housing Group Estates Team Leader, Peter Black, said: “Dumped furniture, electrical items and waste is not just an eyesore; it can be a real safety hazard too. We won’t accept any fly-tipping in our neighbourhoods and don’t hesitate to use all of the powers available to us and our partners to tackle any offenders.”

County Durham Housing Group is responsible for more than 18,000 properties stretching from rural Weardale to the Durham coast. Neighbourhood and estates teams from the group are working to ensure that all tenants understand the laws around dumping waste and fly-tipping, as well as how to report any problems.

“The law around dumping rubbish is very clear. It’s the responsibility of households to dispose of their waste legally. That includes what is known as the ‘duty of care’, to check that anyone you pay to remove rubbish for you, is disposing of it legally too.” Peter added.

Durham County Council operates 13 household waste recycling centres right across the county.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “The vast majority of people do the right thing and get rid of their waste legally, but there’s a small minority who continue to blight their communities.

“There is never an excuse for fly-tipping, especially when there are a number of ways to dispose of rubbish and waste responsibly.

“People also have a responsibility to know where their waste is going to end up, and sometimes when the price is too good to be true – it is just that.

“If your waste is fly-tipped and traced back to you, you could be taken to court and prosecuted.”