The number of tyre dumping incidents in Northern Ireland rose significantly in 2017 from the previous year.

According to figures obtained by BBC News NI, 155 incidents were reported to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Tyre dumping was reported 95 times in 2016 leading to four prosecutions.

The department said that the illegal dumping of tyres was usually carried out by commercial operators keen to avoid disposal costs.

Dumping tyres and the law

The Waste and Contaminated Land (NI) Order 1997 gives the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) responsibilities for regulating, monitoring and enforcing waste management in Northern Ireland.

It gives the NIEA powers to prosecute for the illegal deposit of waste on any land. The NIEA can prosecute either the owner of the land, which can be a council or any statutory agency that is the land owner of a bonfire site.

The council area with the most tyre dumping was Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, with 17% of all reported incidents. It is followed by Mid Ulster, with 13% of reported incidents and Antrim and Newtownabbey with 12% of reported incidents.

A total of 30% of tyres dumped are simply left at the side of the road, 23% are left on farmland, with 12% left at commercial premises.

In a statement, a DAERA spokesperson said: “NIEA assesses all reports and incidents considered to be more serious with either significant numbers of tyres… or where the illegal dumping concerns a pattern of repeat offending and/or organised crime.

“In each case we will assess any reasonable lines of enquiry and investigate further with a view to enforcement action and possible prosecution.

The department said that the illegal dumping of tyres “is usually facilitated or carried out by commercial operators who are seeking to avoid disposal costs”.

“Where we have sufficient evidence of those responsible we will usually refer the matter for prosecution. A summary prosecution could result in up to six months imprisonment and or a £50,000 fine,” a spokesperson added.