Increase in illegal tyre dumping in Northern Ireland
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.
There are five open investigations into reported deposits.
There were six prosecutions in 2015 but the total number incidents in that year is not available.
While no particular illegal tyre dumping problem areas have been identified, "bonfire locations do feature as hotspots," DAERA said.
However, only 14% of illegal tyre dumping happens at bonfire sites.
Dumping tyres and the law
The Waste and Contaminated Land (NI) Order 1997 gives the 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.
It also has powers to prosecute the person responsible for depositing the waste.
But unless there is an eyewitness account it will not be able to proceed with an investigation.
There is also duty of care on people handling controlled waste to ensure that it is disposed of safely and end-of-life tyres can only be transported by a licensed waste carrier.
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.