UPPER Hunter Shire Council staff have been busy following up reports of suspected illegal waste dumping at various locations across the shire.
Council is a member of the Hunter/Central Coast Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squad, formed as part of the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) strategy for dealing with the problem of illegal waste dumping.
The EPA provided funding to the RID squad to carry out an audit of illegal waste dumping in the Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunters local government areas.
Council’s health building and compliance coordinator Christine Robinson said the results of the audit were positive for the Upper Hunter Shire.
“The RID squad carried out an audit earlier this year by undertaking aerial surveillance. As a result, information was passed on to council for investigation,” she said.
“Overall, the number of reports was relatively low compared to other member councils.
“Most of the cases were on privately owned land and investigations undertaken so far have revealed that no offence has taken place.”
Illegal dumping varies from small bags of rubbish in an urban environment to larger scale dumping of waste materials in isolated areas.
“Waste is not just rubbish but also includes excavated material, construction and demolition waste and asbestos or contaminated soil.
“Illegal dumping occurs on private, council and Crown owned land.
“By placing waste on your own land you may also be committing an offence.
“Placement of waste which pollutes land or water, causes degradation of the land or harm to the health or safety of humans, animals or ecosystems is an offence.
“If waste is dumped on your land, you are responsible for managing the cleanup of the waste and bearing the cost.
“The owner of the waste and the transporter are also both guilty of an offence.
“Penalties are severe with the maximum of $250,000 for an individual and $1,000,000 for a corporation.
“Landowners need to beware of accepting fill onto their land and be certain that they are not accepting illegal landfill.
“Check the credentials of anyone who offers you free or cheap fill and never accept fill from unknown sources.
“Before accepting fill, check if any council approvals are required.”
Illegal dumping of waste is a serious offence.
By reporting illegal dumping you can help prevent damage to the environment and reduce risks to human health.
To report serious incidents of dumping, phone the Environmental Hotline on 131 555 or for smaller incidents, phone council on 6540 1100.
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