The Environment Agency (EA), police and local authorities are trying to track down suspected criminals who have dumped tonnes of waste disguised as hay bales in rural locations.
Around 40 tonnes of waste was tipped into a field at Bishop Auckland in County Durham. Police prevented a second lorry from tipping waste. The vehicle has been seized, pending further investigations.
Eighty bales of “old processed waste” was also found left on land in Sadberge, near Darlington. On 7 September, 20 bales of waste were found dumped at a farm near Northallerton.
Dave Edwardson, enforcement team leader at the EA in the north-east, said: “At first glance waste that is wrapped in bales can be mistaken for hay or silage.
“We’ve also previously investigated cases where waste has been dumped in vacant buildings, leaving landowners with the responsibility and costs of disposing of the waste.
“We’re determined to tackle crime such as this. Waste that isn’t managed properly can impact on communities, the environment and legitimate businesses and won’t be tolerated.
“I’d urge all landowners, farmers and property agents to be vigilant and report any concerns or anything suspicious to us straight away.”
It is not the first time hay bales have been used to disguise waste.
In May 2013 three men were arrested following an EA investigation into a “highly organised criminal scam” involving 1,500 bundles of household and business waste illegally dumped on open land and camouflaged as plastic-wrapped hay bales.