Asbestos, mattresses, tyres and furniture are just some of the items fly-tippers are dumping across Mid and East Antrim.
According to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), they cleaned-up nine illegal waste sites in the area in last two years.
Derek Williamson, NIEA’s Head of Enforcement, said collective action is needed to stop the illegal dumpers.
“Fly-tipping is a crime and a grotesque blight on our landscape. In the last two years, NIEA alone, have cleaned-up 306 sites across Northern Ireland at a cost to the taxpayer of over £0.5million.
“That amount would be significantly higher if we factored in the amount of money Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spent on clean-ups.
“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. So, we have started a campaign to raise awareness of the issue, how to report this crime and to explain that everyone has a responsibility when it comes to how their own rubbish is disposed of,” Mr Williamson added.
Everyone from householders to businesses have a responsibility, a duty of care, to make sure their rubbish doesn’t end up being illegally dumped.
“Whether you book a skip, pay a builder, plumber or a ‘man with a van’ to remove your general household waste you must make sure they are licenced to do so,” Mr Williamson explained.
“We are working with local councils to tackle this problem as clean-up, investigation and prosecution costs are a significant strain on the public purse.
“It is a stain on our beautiful and unique countryside, causes damage to our environment and wildlife, as well as creating a headache for people who live or work nearby with litter, vermin, pollution and smell. In NIEA we are determined to tackle these waste criminals who wilfully dispose of their waste illegally,” added Mr Williamson.
“Everyone can help keep Northern Ireland clean by reporting fly-tipping or litter hotspots.”
Stephen Holgate, Head of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Waste Services said: “Fly-tipping is an offence. Our environment here in Mid and East Antrim is one of our strongest assets and we want to protect it for generations to come, but we need our local communities to support this.
“Council regularly works with residents to educate them on the detrimental impacts of litter and fly-tipping and runs regular litter picks. There are five recycling centre sites in Mid and East Antrim and we can also arrange bulky lifts for larger items.
“Our recycling figures are on the increase, but we are still working hard to change the bad habits of the few, so that the many can enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of our countryside, coasts and towns, without the blight of pollution.”