A couple who left their name and address in waste they dumped at a protected site as CCTV cameras rolled have been left hundreds of pounds worse off.
Ashley Archer and Victoria Louise Parker, from Horden, have been successfully prosecuted by Durham County Council as part of its Operation Stop It! crackdown on fly-tipping.
At Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Archer, 37, and Parker, 36, who live together at Third Street, each pleaded guilty to a charge of depositing controlled waste.
The court heard how on 3 September last year, a council neighbourhood warden called at Limekiln Gill at Horden, which is both a National Nature Reserve and forms part of the Durham Coastal Special Area of Conservation.
He discovered 19 bags of household waste had been dumped.
Among the waste were letters bearing the couple’s address and a medicine packet bearing Parker’s name.
The warden reviewed footage from a CCTV camera left in the area as part of Operation Stop It, which sees the council work with partners to both take action against fly-tippers, and educate people to dispose of waste responsibly.
The footage showed a silver Ford Focus at the location the previous afternoon. A man and women then get out of the car and deposit the waste.
A check of the vehicle’s registration found that it was registered to Archer and the warden was able to establish that he was living at the address found in the waste, with Parker.
In interview, the couple initially denied dumping the waste but when shown the footage they admitted it.
In court, the couple apologised for their actions and accepted they had been irresponsible.
Magistrates were told they had waste from moving into their first home and hadn’t known how to dispose of it.
Archer and Parker were ordered to pay £624 each, incorporating fines of £480, costs of £196 and victim surcharges of £48.
After the case, Ian Hoult, the council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We are having to deal with around 7,500 fly-tips each year and this has an annual cost to us of around £500,000.
“This is obviously not a good use of our resources given the budget pressures we face.
“Despite these figures we know the vast majority of our residents get rid of their waste responsibly and we would encourage everyone to use our household waste recycling centres or arrange for us to come out and get their bulky items for a small fee.
“We really hope the financial penalties in this case will make people think twice before fly-tipping and show that we are prepared to take the strongest possible action to tackle this scourge.”