NIEA reveals illegal fly-tipping costs

Date published: 31 May 2018

The illegal dumping of waste is the biggest environmental concern for households in Northern Ireland according to the latest statistics from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The agency also revealed that in the last two years it has cleaned-up 306 illegal waste sites, with taxpayers footing the £0.5million bill – the equivalent to employing 15 nurses.

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 each council spends on clean-ups.

“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.

“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 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 hire a skip, pay a builder 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 partners 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 those waste criminals who wilfully dispose of their waste illegally,” added Mr Williamson.

“Everyone can help keep Northern Ireland clean and prevent the harm by reporting fly-tipping incidents.”

Dr Ian Humphreys from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “Thankfully, most people dispose of their rubbish correctly, however, a small number of selfish people are placing a significant burden on our environment and economy.

“We are keen to work with NIEA and local councils to help tackle this problem and develop tangible community pride so that people love where they live and feel responsible for the landscape around them. Our Live Here Love Here campaign is aimed at helping create cleaner and prouder communities and ultimately a better environment for all everyone.

“A high quality environment is something we all benefit from and all organisations, big and small, have an important role to play in helping us all achieve it.”

The overall figures for fly-tipping incidents dealt with by NIEA across Northern Ireland are:

Incidents of waste removal by NIEA
Council Area 2016 2017 Total
Newry, Mourne & Down  37 28 *65
Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon 23 30 53
Belfast 11 23 34
Causeway Coast & Glens 12 18 30
Antrim & Newtownabbey  20 8 28
Derry & Strabane 17 9 26
Lisburn & Castlereagh 13 10 23
Mid Ulster 12 6 18
Fermanagh & Omagh 6 5 11
Ards & North Down 4 5 9
Mid & East Antrim 4 5 9
Total 159 147 306

*This figure includes a significant number of fuel laundering waste incidents.

Notes to editors: 

  1. You can report illegal waste management to NIEA’s Environmental Crime Unit on 028 9056 9453. You can contact them anonymously or leave your details. Or email:
  2. View our Youtube video on fly tipping.
  3. If you need to dispose of waste, either from your home or business, remember to ask the provider of the service questions about where your waste will be taken and what records you will receive to show it was managed legally.
  4. Check out DAERA’s list of registered waste carriers 
  5. See our guidance for more information on duty of care
  6. Your local council provides waste disposal sites and recycling centres where you can safely and legally recycle or dispose of unwanted items.
  7. The police and authorised officers of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs may stop, search and seize vehicles used or suspected of being used for illegal waste activities, including fly-tipping.
  8. Download the Northern Ireland Environmental Statistics Report 2018 
  9. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
  10. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
  11. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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