National Park chiefs have delayed a decision on whether a huge amount of waste buried illegally in the New Forest should be removed.
Members of the National Park Authority (NPA) were shown proposals that would allow 12,500 cubic metres of builders’ rubble and other material to remain.
However, they called for further investigations to be carried out after being lobbied by people living near the site in Pollards Moor Road, Copythorne.
As reported in the Daily Echo, landowner Kenneth Lovett buried the waste in a five-acre field next door to his house in 2006.
His neighbours say the unauthorised activity has raised the level of the field by a metre, altering the water table and leaving surrounding land prone to flooding.
NPA members debated the problem last October and discussed the possibility of forcing Mr Lovett to remove the waste. However, they gave him the chance to resolve the issue by devising a new
drainage system supported by independent experts.
The NPA has now received a report compiled by consulting engineers Such-Salinger-Peters, who are backing the proposals put forward by Mr Lovett.
But Copythorne residents, supported by ward councillor Derek Tipp, challenged the report at a meeting of the NPA’s planning and development control committee yesterday.
Parish councillor Stuart Bullen-Jarvis described the document as “flawed”.
NPA member Richard Frampton said the authority should commission its own report and visit the site to see the situation for themselves.
He added: “We have a duty of care to the residents. We need to explore all the avenues and make sure we are doing the right thing.”
During the debate it emerged that two residents had taken the NPA to the Local Government Ombudsman, saying the authority should remove the waste itself.
But the Ombudsman cited the cost to the public purse and said the NPA was entitled to explore other options.