Investigation underway after ancient Kent woodland turned into 'disgusting' wasteland

WATCH: The Environment Agency show ITV Meridian the state of Hoad's Wood

An investigation is being carried out into a section of historic woodland in Kent that has been turned into a "disgusting" wasteland.

The Environment Agency is working alongside local authorities to understand how litter has ended up piled 12ft high across four acres in Hoad’s Wood.

The woods, near Ashford, are split into plots that are privately owned. The Environment Agency is investigating who owns the section of woods and who has been turning it into a dump.

Hoad's Wood has protected status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

There are multiple signs at the entrance to the area warning people not to fly tip, which have been ignored.

Huge areas of trees have also been felled to make way for illegal rubbish.

Multiple signs can been seen at the entrance to Hoad's Wood warning people not to fly tip. Credit: ITV Meridian

Those involved in the investigation say it's frustrating to see how the woodland has been ruined.

Matt Higginson, Environment Agency, said: "It's clearly deliberate. The people or companies involved, they're not doing this by chance, it's an organised activity.

"There's been a lot of waste brought in through organised companies, so they're making a lot of money from this. There are no permits or other authorisations from the Environment Agency or any other regulatory body. They're doing this in the complete knowledge that they're flouting the law.

"These are people who are organised, they are criminals, these aren't people who are doing it on the off chance. So while they're getting money, they will still seek to get away with it.

"What we're trying to do, is to make sure that we've got a strong case that when we come to take some enforcement action, we're able to put in place measures to stop them as soon as possible, when we have all that relevant information.

"It's upsetting for us, we don't want to see places like this ruined, we want to preserve a natural environment. To see this kind of activity taking place, it's incredibly frustrating."

Huge areas of trees have been felled to make way for the industrial-scale dumping ground.

The county council, police and Forestry Commission are all working alongside the Environment Agency.

Councillor Yolanda Barker, Great Chart with Singleton Parish Council, said: "We saw the pictures and we were astonished that such a mess could be made of such a special site.

"We're really upset at the fact it's been allowed to dump there for so long. The destruction is just so distressing."

It's hoped that the industrial-scale dumping will be stopped, in order to prevent lasting damage to the protected ancient woodland.

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