A DRAMATIC rise in fly-tipping in the New Forest is “disgusting”, according to outraged district councillors.

Figures from New Forest District Council show during January to September of this year there were 1,043 incidents compared to just 776 in the whole of 2019 – an increase of 267 already.

Joshua Kidd, a councillor for Ringwood North, said: “It is disgusting that anyone would consider polluting and damaging our precious wildlife, open spaces, and national park in this way.”

“I strongly encourage everybody to play their part in protecting our shared environment. It is crucial that we all accept responsibility for the waste we produce, from single use plastics and takeaway rubbish to building supplies and mattresses. As well as reducing how much waste we create it is imperative we dispose of our waste responsibly and legally," he added.

He said the team at NFDC “work tirelessly” to investigate and clean up fly-tipping incidents.

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Councillor Annie Bellows, ward councillor for Fordingbridge, said she was “not surprised” at the figures and had noticed a rise in fly-tipping in the area.

She added: “Residents need to be more aware of the fact that it is their responsibility to ensure that any contractors/gardeners they employ are disposing of the waste legally and responsibly. Fly-tipping is an ugly and costly problem which ultimately can cost the ratepayer more money. Each individual needs to be responsible for ensuring they recycle and dispose of their own rubbish in the correct way.”

Councillor Edward Heron, who is NFDC deputy leader and ward councillor for Downlands and Forest, said the increase in reports of fly-tipping was “very disappointing”.

He added: “Fly-tipping isn’t just unsightly, it can damage the environment and be a danger to wildlife and grazing livestock in fields and on the Forest, potentially causing a slow and painful death.

“It is the responsibility of the producer of the waste to take all reasonable steps to ensure the waste is disposed of properly and failing to do so risks an unlimited fine and potentially, in the most serious cases, up to five years in prison.”

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Councillor Jeremy Heron, for Ringwood South, said: “As the cost of disposing of waste rises there is an increasing propensity for fly-tipping and this can only be addressed through a combination of educating people to ensure that they only use licenced waste carriers, vigilance in tracking down those that fly-tip and make representation to the courts so that the penalty for those that are found guilty of breaking the law is such that it discourages others from such activity.

"Our first priority is to keep our residents safe but we would also ask them to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity along with the registration number of any vehicle involved, we will need to work together to deal with this modern scourge.”

Colin Read, the executive head-operations and deputy chief executive at NFDC, said the council investigates every incident of fly-tipping.

He said: “Fly-tipping is a crime that is not only unsightly but also damaging to the local environment and wildlife. We work to reduce fly-tipping through increased prosecutions, improved reporting and education. We work closely with the Police and the Environment Agency and regularly carry out stop checks on those carrying or suspected of carrying waste to ensure that they are licenced correctly."