A rural Auckland road is to be closed so contractors can retrieve hundreds of tyres dumped along its fringe.
Retrieving the tyres is expected to take a few days.
The huge illegal dumping of tyres off the side of Twilight Rd, Brookby, comes as Auckland Council seeks evidence to prosecute those who discarded leaking oil drums on roadsides in two recent incidents.
In January, 28 barrels containing used oil were dumped along Piha Rd, and later the same month Mayor Phil Goff found a dozen similar oil drums discarded on an Ardmore roadside on his drive to work.
Goff told the Herald there was reason to suspect the same people were responsible.
Those incidents and the discovery by the Herald of tyres tipped into bush off Twilight Rd appear to have been done by commercial operators.
Goff has declared himself to be on the warpath and wants the council to lift its game and examples made of the worst offenders.
"Illegal roadside rubbish dumping has blighted our city, harmed our environment and burdened ratepayers with the costs of clean-up. I'm sick and tired of it, Aucklanders are sick and tired of it and I'm calling on members of the public to help us tackle the problem.
"I'm calling on our communities not to accept the irresponsible actions of a few individuals and cowboy commercial outfits, and to report illegal dumping."
The council's general manager of waste solutions, Ian Stupple, said investigations were continuing into the recent spate of oil drums being dumped.
Stupple said its investigators were following "a number of strong lines of inquiry" but the council still wanted to hear from anyone with information about the offences or offenders. They should ring the council's call centre on 09 301 0101 and quote incident reference INR60205215.
Removing the tyres dumped off Twilight Rd is expected to take days and may begin Monday. [Feb 19] Abseiling equipment is expected to be needed.
If in good condition, the tyres would go to a processor to be recycled, otherwise to a landfill.
"Illegal dumping of tyres has been a problem for some time [but] there isn't evidence to suggest it is increasing," Stupple said.
The mayor recently announced new spending of $200,000 for a hotline number (0800 NO DUMP) to report illegal dumping incidents, three more enforcement staff (bringing the total to nine), and doubling the number of dedicated CCTV cameras to 14.
Because of the nature of some of the dumping, such as leaking oil drums, a charge under the Resource Management Act, which carries maximum penalties of $300,000 and two years' jail, may be possible, Goff earlier told the Herald.
But gathering sufficient evidence was difficult. The council brought only two prosecutions last year under the Litter Act 1979, which provides for fines of up to $30,000 for a company and $5000 for an individual.
The difficulty in getting sufficient evidence and the cost of taking a prosecution through the courts meant careful thought had to be given, a council source said.
"A vehicle registration may not be enough."
Goff has asked staff to explore what would be required to make owners of vehicles involved in illegal dumping strictly liable, as is the case with speed camera fines when the owner is unable to identify who was driving at the time.
The average Auckland household sends about 144kg to landfill each year, most through the weekly collection.
The council could not waive landfill fees as a way of possibly discouraging illegal dumping because landfills are almost all privately owned.
Cleaning up illegally dumped rubbish cost Auckland ratepayers more than $1 million last year.
Goff last month said there had seemed to be a surge in fly-tipping over the Christmas holiday period.
However, the council's data showed that the amount of illegally-dumped rubbish it has collected has decreased slightly in recent years, including after replacing neighbourhood inorganic collections with a system that requires householders to book a collection with the council.
Last year the council collected 1323 tonnes, compared with 1342 and 1377 in the two previous years.