ILLEGAL waste sites in Northumberland could be blitzed with the help of a new national taskforce.
The Environment Agency will invest up to £5million in a two-year programme to crack down on the crime.
Officials have so far identified more than 600 illegal waste sites in the country, including 36 in the North East. More than half the sites are within 50metres of schools, homes or sensitive environmental areas.
The new taskforce will work closely with enforcement officials to gather intelligence and act quickly.
Environment Minister Lord Taylor said: “These illegal waste sites do untold damage to the environment and cause misery for local people that have to live with toxic fumes, noise at all hours and unbearable smells.
“We are cracking down on those sites that blight our communities and will work with the police and other partners to bring the criminals behind them to justice.”
Anyone with information about suspected illegal waste operators should contact the Environment Agency on 0800 807060, or telephone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.