OVER the last two years environment officials have been forced to clean up over 50 illegal dump sites in the three council areas which cover Tyrone.
A breakdown of the figures from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) show that in each of the areas – Derry and Strabane, Fermanagh and Omagh, and Mid Ulster – the number of dumping incidents which range from fly-tipping to illegal fuel laundering dumps, reduced from 2016 to 2017.
In Mid Ulster, there were 12 incidents of waste removal in 2016 and six the following the year.
In Fermanagh and Omagh, there was a reduction from six to five in dump sites cleared, while in Derry and Strabane there was a more significant drop from 17 to nine.
The NIEA say they have spent over £500k cleaning up sites across the North over the two-year period.
However the figures do not tell the whole story, as local councils are also involved in cleaning up a significant number of illegal dumps and fly-tipping each year and spending thousands of ratepayers’ pounds in the process.
Indeed, in recent months fly-tipping has become much more prevalent in east Tyrone with household waste, mattresses and broken children’s toys among the rubbish dumped along roadsides in the wider Coalisland area.
Derek Williamson who is the NIEA’s head of enforcement, said his department would take legal action against those found to be responsible.
“These illegal dumpers are damaging our landscape and turning some of our most precious beauty spots, in cities, towns and the countryside into rubbish tips,” he said.
“It is not an issue we can simply prosecute our way out of. We must inform, educate and motivate people to change their behaviour.
“To have respect and concern for their prized-landscape and environment – for their own communities, neighbours and our economy.
“We will not hesitate to prosecute when we have enough evidence, but we also need people to get on-board with us to fight the fly-tippers.”