High-tech surveillance cameras may be deployed on Far North roadsides to counter an increasing problem with illegal dumping.
Illegally dumped rubbish costs Far North ratepayers about $80,000 a year to clean up, as well as blighting roadsides and posing a health risk.
The council fields two-to-five complaints a day about rubbish tipping, compared to 350 for all of 2012. The latest problem is old car tyres, which is likely to be related to the introduction of a tyre disposal fee at transfer stations.
The issue was discussed at a council meeting in Kaikohe, where staff said quotes were being sought for cameras which could be hidden at common dumping spots in the hope of capturing offenders and their licence plates.
Infrastructure and asset manager David Penny said hidden cameras were already in use but the image quality was not always good enough for prosecution. Cameras now available could capture clear images even at night, when most dumping took place.
The council budgeted $37,000 a year to pay contractors to clean up the mess, but because of the high cost most of the work was now being done by council staff.
He estimated the cost to ratepayers was $80,000 a year.
In a report to councillors, acting environmental protection manager Murray McDonald said household rubbish left on roadsides often contained letters or other identifying material, allowing the offenders to be fined. Large-volume dumping of rubbish tended to occur in rural areas.
Another problem was people leaving rubbish out for kerbside collection without pre-paid bags or stickers, especially around Kerikeri-Waipapa. Recently large numbers of tyres had been dumped at Kaeo and Horeke, or thrown over transfer station fences after hours.
Rubbish could also be a problem on private property. Council officers recently accompanied police to a Kaitaia rental property where the garage was packed with household waste. The land-lord was tracked down in Australia and arranged a clean-up.
Fines range from $100-$400. Unpaid, the council can take the offender to court. In the past two years 121 infringement notices were issued, of which 24 were paid, 38 waived and 59 gone to court.
Te Hiku Community Board chairman Dennis Bowman said entire truckloads were tipped into the Herekino Gorge.
"It's the biggest tip in the district," he said.
Mayor Wayne Brown dismissed Cr Bowman's idea of a targeted rate for cleaning up illegal rubbish, saying it would penalise law-abiding citizens.
"We're going to get photos of these b**tards and take them to court," Mr Brown said.