Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)
Steeper fines and CCTV urged to tackle "scourge" of fly-tipping in MEA
“Rising levels” of fly-tipping in Mid and East Antrim have cost the ratepayer more than £50k to clean up during the past two years, councillors have been told.
Speaking at a meeting of the borough council on Thursday evening, Knockagh DUP Councillor Marc Collins noted 324 incidents reported to the local authority to date this financial year with the upward trend expected to continue.
He explained that the clear-up costs were shared by the council to the tune of £35k and cost DAERA £17k.
During 2019/20, there were 393 and 469, the previous year.
He noted that mostly fly-tipping results in a fixed penalty of £80.
He noted that this is the same as the fixed penalty for dropping a cigarette butt in Mid and East Antrim for which 1,600 people have been fined during the past six months.
Cllr Collins suggested that the closure of household recycling centres during the first lockdown “attributed massively” to fly-tipping which he described as “completely unacceptable”.
Most dumped items included general household waste which peaked during the closure of household recycling centres.
Other goods which were fly-tipped included furniture, carpet, clinical waste, PPE, toys, gas bottles, prams, kerbie boxes, dog fouling bags and dead animals.
Almost half of all fly-tipping in the borough took place in Ballymena, 48 per cent, 30 per cent in Carrickfergus and 22 per cent in Larne. Twelve households in Ballymena received a warning letter and two in Carrickfergus.
Cllr Collins continued: “To many, it seems like a risk worth taking. We should be looking at best practice from other parts of the UK.”
Noting a large rural area within the borough, he called for a “much more severe penalty”.
Seconding the motion, party colleague Knockagh Councillor Peter Johnston noted that the figures for successful prosecution of fly-tipping are “very low”.
He suggested that CCTV at “hotspots” could be explored and increased fines may be a “bigger deterrent”.
He paid tribute to the work of volunteer litter pickers in the community such as the Eco Rangers and Whitehead Wombles and Councillors Danny Donnelly and Andrew Clarke.
Cllr Donnelly, a Larne Lough representative stated: “Fly-tipping is a scourge that needs to treated harshly.”
He asked for those responsible to be identified and prosecuted.
Last year, Cllr Donnelly reported the discovery of two rotting lamb carcasses with their ears removed that had been found dumped inside a white feed bag on a verge at Brustin Brae Road outside Larne.
Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston suggested that the fine should be increased to £200.
Ballymena SDLP Councillor Eugene Reid said that the issue is one of the most commonly raised by constituents.
“We should be doing everything in our power to find out who these people are,” he stated.