ENVIRONMENT managers have unveiled a cut in fly-tipping across West Oxfordshire thanks to junk fighting team.

Fly-tipping incidents in the area have reduced in number by 85 (11.5 per cent) during the year, according to the latest national statistics, published by the Environment Agency.

The latest incident saw the council swoop on an area off Cuckoo Lane, at Barnard Gate on Monday, when they had to clear up a dumped garden shed and other rubbish.

The area's police commander, Chief Insp Dennis Evernden, said: "We are interested in this kind of environmental crime because it is often linked with other crime, like burglary and metal thefts.

"Fly-tippers are not just lazy individuals, but also rogue traders who dump builder's rubble, kitchen sinks, whatever, to avoid paying the fee at licensed rubbish dumps."

West Oxfordshire District Council is celebrating success a year after it set up a dedicated team of two environmental enforcement officers, who have been mapping where flytipping occurs.

In the past 12 months, the council has cautioned and prosecuted eight offenders, including Standlake resident Andrew Wilson, who dumped large quantities of rubble and kitchen building waste by the side of the main A415 road, just outside his village. Wilson, of The Furlongs Standlake, was fined £600, and ordered to pay £200 costs plus a £15 surcharge, to cover the costs of removal.

David Harvey, cabinet member for the environment, said: "A reduction in fly-tipping is excellent news, particularly as the public have identified it as one of their environmental crime priorities."

In addition to reducing the number of incidents, the costs of clearing up fly-tipping has been reduced in West Oxfordshire from £42,421, in 2006/7, to £30,508, in 2007/8 (a reduction of £11,913).

Bill Oddy, the council's head of community services, said: "We know where the hot spots are.

"There are three bad ones we are closely monitoring."

Dumping commercial waste can incur a £300 fixed penalty fine, while the cost of a license for offloading it at a controlled waste site is £144.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Oxfordshire branch, welcomes the news that fly-tipping rates are dropping in West Oxfordshire.

Dr Helena Whall, campaign manager said: "Fly-tipping is a menace that blights attractive countryside.

"That is why CPRE has launched Stop the Drop, to make the countryside what it was almost everywhere until very recently, and what most of us still want it to be - a place of cherished beauty and sometimes utter perfection."

Other areas of the county have also reduced reported incidents, and countywide the reduction is 5.4 per cent.

There has been a total of 16 cautions and prosecutions in Oxfordshire, compared to none the previous year.