THOUSANDS of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on cleaning up the New Forest after a spate of illegal dumping.

In the past eight weeks the Forestry Commission has received 80 reports of waste being discarded in the countryside, including fridges, televisions and tyres.

Now Forestry bosses have joined forces with New Forest District Council to tackle the issue.

Gary North, the commission’s recreation manager, said the latest incidents had cost the organisation more than £11,000.

“We are being forced to spend time and resources on clearing and collection rather than investing in conservation activities,” he said.

“Fly-tipping is not only unsightly in such an area of natural beauty but it’s having to be resolved at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Mr North stressed that people who dump rubbish in the countryside were risking prosecution as well as causing damage to wildlife habitats.

Edward Heron, the council’s Cabinet member for environment , added: “The council spends about £60,000 each year of taxpayers’ money clearing up an average of 800 fly-tipping incidents in towns and villages.

“Residents should be aware that if they’re caught they could be prosecuted. Even those who let unregistered waste carriers dispose of their rubbish could find themselves in the firing line.”

A Forestry Commission spokesman said it was difficult to pinpoint the cause of the recent spike in fly-tipping.

She added: “I’ve been advised that from time to time there is a rise. The recent increase could be due to the high number of people visiting or using the Forest in the summer months.”

Anyone who witnesses flytipping should call police on 101 or contact the council through its new mobile app In Touch.