Campaigners rejoice as Secretary of State orders clean-up of Hoad’s Wood

Environment Agency must clear 30,000 tonnes of waste from ancient woodland at Hoad's Wood in Kent
Hoad's Wood dumped waste in Kent - resized
Tonnes of waste has been dumped over several months at Hoad's Wood in Ashford, Kent.

Defra Secretary of State, Steve Barclay, has ordered the Environment Agency (EA) must clear 30,000 tonnes of waste from ancient woodland.

Campaigners including the CLA have been calling for Hoad's Wood near Ashford, Kent, to be cleaned up as soon as possible.

The Site of Special Scientific Interest currently lies buried beneath a mountain of illegally dumped waste, which built up over several months.

The activity finally stopped in January 2024 when the EA blocked off the site and imposed an enforcement order preventing access.

Since then, campaigners have been calling for a clean-up of the area, which is estimated to cover around four acres of land and stands up to 25ft high in places. Locals have raised concerns for their health with the stench from the waste being commented on by journalists reporting the story from the woodland. Wildlife experts raised concerns over the runoff from the tip which was trickling into the network of ditches that connect to the River Beult.

In April, the CLA, Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, South East Rivers Trust, CPRE Kent and the Rescue Hoad’s Wood campaign wrote to the Secretary of State, Steve Barclay asking that he used his powers to release emergency funds to begin an urgent clean-up operation.

On 3 May MP Robbie Moore replied on behalf of Mr Barclay stating that delivery plans have been requested from the EA to resolve the situation. The matter was also raised in the House of Lords by Earl Russell.

Campaigners from the Rescue Hoad’s Wood group say that contractors have quoted the clean-up operation will cost £10m.

On 23rd May, a Ministerial Direction was published on the government’s website ordering a clean-up of the woodland. The order states that the cost of the operation would fall on the EA. In a letter from Phillip Duffey, chief executive of the EA to the Secretary of State, Mr Duffy suggests these funds will be, in part, found from the floods capital programme.


CLA South East Regional Director Tim Bamford said: "We're pleased to see progress. This is a strong example of the community and various organisations working together for a positive outcome, despite the atrocious circumstances."

A spokesman for the Rescue Hoad’s Wood campaign said: "We are thrilled to hear that the funding required to clear the 30,000 tonnes of illegally dumped landfill waste from Hoad’s Wood is now approved.

"This marks a significant step forward in our efforts to restore the natural beauty of this ancient bluebell woodland. We eagerly anticipate the swift completion of the clean-up operation so the recovery process can commence."

“We’d like to thank the CLA, CPRE Kent, Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, South East Rivers Trust, The Woodland Trust for supporting and endorsing our campaign. Also, a special thanks to Chris Packham and Paul Powlesland of Lawyers for Nature for amplifying our demands for the clean-up and the 10,000 plus people who signed our petition. It is wonderful to have your backing.”