Fly-tippers are turning some of South Tyrone’s popular beauty-spots into a dumper’s paradise.
Investigations into illegal dumps in the area have led to the discovery of almost 2 million tonnes of waste and nine convictions over the past ten years.
The staggering amount of rubbish makes up the bulk of the illegal waste dumped across Northern Ireland.
Fly-tipping sites have been unearthed at Derryhirk Road, Derrycor Road, Culrevog Road, Killybearn Road, Esker Road, Brackaville Road, Keenaghan Road, Monaghan Road and the Glasdrummond Road.
To the alarm of local residents, much of the waste, which originates from the Republic of Ireland, has been left to rot in fields across the Dungannon area.
Whereas the majority of illegal dumping sites across Northern Ireland have been cleared, those in East and South Tyrone have been left to fester and potentially pollute the local environment. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) believes more than 30,000 tonnes of waste have been dumped across three sites at Galbally, Ballygawley and Sandholes.
According to the news website the Detail, Stormont is struggling to cope with the discovery of the waste in the past decade, with nearly 6,000 incidents of fly-tipping a year, plus the burning of nearly 400,000 tyres in fires at recycling plants since 2009.
Friends of the Earth director James Orr believes that the scale of illegal dumping, coupled with the prospect of Brexit and the potential future loss of European Union environmental safeguards has brought government to a crossroads.
“To clean up these (illegal) sites could potentially bankrupt Northern Ireland, but not cleaning up these sites leaves a toxic legacy and we cannot pass on this toxic legacy to future generations,” he said. In the past three years (2012 to 2015) a total of 177 cases have come before the courts in relation to waste related crimes, with just 4 prison sentences.