CLA expresses support for Hoad’s Wood: Precious site must be cleared up quickly

Petition launched after vehicles dump mountains of waste at SSSI in Kent, damaging the environment
Hoad's Wood Kent waste dumped
Hoad's Wood in Ashford, Kent, has suffered mass dumpings of waste on an industrial scale, with mounds up to 25 ft high.

The appalling dumping of vast quantities of waste at a beauty spot in Kent must be cleared up as soon as possible, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has said as it backs a campaign supporting Hoad’s Wood.

The CLA, a membership organisation representing farmers, landowners and rural businesses that works to champion the rural economy, environment and way of life, has joined the Rescue Hoad’s Wood campaign.

Earlier this year the Environment Agency closed the site to prevent further tipping, with campaigners and witnesses saying dozens of vehicle movements had transported large quantities of waste up to 25 ft high onto the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) over several months, causing a smell and polluting the woodland, soil and local water courses.

A court order is in place prohibiting anyone from entering or depositing waste at Hoad’s Wood in Ashford, and the site's gate has been locked and concrete blocks placed to prevent access.

There were one million incidents of fly-tipping on public land in England last year, with 25,000 of them in the Garden of England – more than any other county in the South East. The true figure is likely to be far higher, as Defra’s data does not include incidents on private land.

When waste is dumped on farmland, it is the farmers’ responsibility to clear it or they themselves will face possible prosecution, despite being the victim. The CLA estimates it costs £1,000 to clear the average dumping.

'No thought of the consequences'

CLA South East Regional Director Tim Bamford said:

“Fly-tipping and the dumping of waste on a mass scale have a huge impact on the environment, farming and our natural landscapes, and the CLA has great sympathy with Hoad’s Wood. This precious site needs to be cleaned up as quickly as possible.

“Sadly all too often rural crime isn’t small-scale or opportunistic, and involves well-established criminal gangs targeting communities with no thought of the consequences. Tonnes of household and commercial waste is being dumped, and can often be hazardous – even including asbestos and chemicals – endangering farmers, wildlife, livestock, crops and the environment.

“While courts can sentence offenders to prison or unlimited fines, prosecutions are rare and criminals clearly do not fear the system. The CLA is campaigning for the various enforcement agencies to be properly trained and resourced, as without more progress it will be farming and the environment, not the criminals, paying the price.

“We also encourage everyone to report all incidents. Building up a comprehensive picture of the severity of the problems is often difficult, which in turn means tackling rural crime goes under-resourced, gifting criminals with an open goal to operate.”

The campaign is also supported by organisations including Kent Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust and South East Rivers Trust.

The campaign and petition

For more on the campaign and its petition visit - there is a meeting tonight chaired by Damian Green MP with campaigners and various enforcement agencies.

CLA's work on rural crime

For more on the CLA’s work on rural crime, see our new ‘mission’ document setting out our key asks and policy recommendations to government.