A CONSERVATION charity has urged people to stop flytipping after masses of rubbish was dumped on their sites during lockdown.

The Woodland Trust, who care for the Smithills estate, have reported an unprecedented surge in litter and flytipping at their sites across the country.

In Bolton, the situation has gotten so extreme that the cost of clearing dumped rubbish during lockdown has reached double their usual yearly spend.

Tracey Garrett, head of the Smithills site for the Trust, said: “It’s been a very stressful time, there’s been a lot of flytipping – particularly in the first few weeks of lockdown.

“In these four months, we’ve spent twice as much on clearing the rubbish as we would in a normal year, we’ve had to move a lot.

“It’s damaging for the environment and the wildlife, it’s not good for the local community, and people have been put at risk from the virus by clearing it up.”

A variety of rubbish has been left at the beauty spot, including toys, bathrooms, sofas, and a kitchen sink.

To combat the rise in flytipping, the Trust has worked with local residents, setting up regular patrols to ensure that the team remain vigilant against rubbish dumpers.

Volunteers have been keeping an eye on the site, hoping to prevent people from flytipping, and investigating any waste that does get dumped.

Ms Garrett added: “We are very lucky to be part of a national charity and to be able to access the funds needed to clear the waste, but any money we spend clearing flytipping we can’t spend on conservation.

“We can’t get on with restoring the countryside, planting new trees, or conserving existing trees whilst we're dealing with flytipping.

Visitors have been urged to follow the Countryside Code when visiting the site to protect it for other people.