Million pound cost for woodland charity to clear fly-tipping

Credit: Chris Ison/PA Archive/PA Images

A charity has revealed how it has been forced to spend tens of thousands of pounds clearing up fly-tipping and litter from woodlands in the north west.

The Woodland Trust said the total annual bill for dealing with the illegally dumped mess on land it owns and takes care of was £200,000 in 2018 - and over the last five years clean-ups have totalled £1.1 million.

Woodlands are being used for hundreds of incidents of tipping and littering, with waste found ranging from fridge freezers and mattresses to carpeting, the remains of a garden wall and oil drums.

In some of the more bizarre incidents, the trust found a bath and even a shrine with a sheep's head.

In 2018 there were 1,290 separate fly-tipping and littering incidents, 998 of which occurred in English woodlands, the charity said.

The worst region in England was the north, where the trust had to undertake 576 clean-ups of illegal waste, at a cost of more than #63,900.

More than £11,000 had to be spent on clearing up mostly fly-tipping on the Smithills Estate in Bolton last year, while the cost at Windmill Hill, near Runcorn, Cheshire was almost £6,000.

Darren Moorcroft, director of estate and woodland outreach, suggested a squeeze on council spending on refuse sites and charges for picking up some kinds of household rubbish could be a factor in fly-tipping.

He said: "This money could have helped us plant many trees or protect woods that are in desperate need of help.

"Fly-tipping is an illegal activity. Whilst it is a costly affair for us to take offenders through a legal process, we do hold that right and have prosecuted in the past, which can lead to substantial fines."

He added that illegal tipping cases in Woodland Trust woods were generally isolated and that they remain beautiful places to visit.