Drone pilots trained to crack down on fly-tipping in Sunderland from the air

Drone pilots are being trained up to help crackdown on fly-tippers from the air.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 2:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 3:04 pm

Illegal dumping and litter has become a big bugbear in Wearside in recent years, and Sunderland City Council has been taking steps to show it will not be tolerated.

As part of an Environmental Services presentation to councillors this week, council officers gave an update on enforcement work.

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A stock image of a drone, in this case one used by police. The airborne devices will be deployed to tackle fly-tipping in Sunderland.

This included Public Spaces Protection Order powers to tackle littering and antisocial behaviour, more streetwatch cameras and now, an ‘eye in the sky’ to help investigate waste dumping offences.

“We have just taken delivery of two drones,” said Sandra Mitchell, assistant director of community resilience.

“We have currently got three members of staff being trained as pilots because if you operate the drone, you’re called a pilot.

“We will start to use drones which will be really really important for getting to areas that staff can’t get to in terms of fly-tipping.

“A lot of the fly-tippers are very clever and go to ‘hidden places’ but our drones can go to those places as well.”

It came during a meeting of the Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee on December 7, held in the new council chamber at City Hall.

According to council data, between August-October 2021 there were around 2,500 incidents of ‘dumping waste’ across the city.

The area with the highest number was Sunderland East with 686 incidents followed by Washington (534), Sunderland West (469), Sunderland North (401) and the Coalfields (344).

Council officers stated they were taking a more proactive approach to fly-tipping, including the use of local intelligence and ‘hot spot mapping’ to drill down into problem areas.

Environmental crime campaigns, promoting enforcement work on social media and a new, improved reporting system are also among efforts.

The reporting system is also expected to be expanded to other services, including missed litter bins.

“It should make a massive difference because the biggest criticism we have got of the current system is the feedback and ‘closing the loop’,” said Ms Mitchell.

“When you have asked for something to be done, how as a resident do you get the information that there has been some progress around it or just being told it has been done.

“The new system will absolutely do that for you and for me, it’s a really important one.”

For more information on reporting fly-tipping incidents in Sunderland, visit: www.sunderland.gov.uk/report-flytipping