RISING landfill charges and the recession has led to a 51 per cent increase in fly-tipping on Epping Forest land in just six months, it has been claimed.

The Corporation of London, which owns and maintains the forest, has said in a new report that many businesses and members of the public are starting to dump their waste in secluded areas and car parks in the forest to avoid the spiralling costs of private rubbish disposal.

Despite a scheme offering a £500 reward to anyone who tips off the authorities about the problem, only one person has been successfully prosecuted in the last six months.

Keith French, the corporation's forest services manager, said the problem was causing serious damage to the forest's environment.

He said: "Chemicals, oils and hazardous substances can leak to the water and soil which can kill the habitat in the area that was fly-tipped and will take a very long time to regenerate.

"Previously, fly-tippers have also set fire to tyres and other waste releasing toxic fumes and ashes which have a detrimental effect on plant life in the area as well as insects and animals."

The corporation has even considered installing CCTV in fly-tipping hot-spots to combat the problem, but says it wants to continue the reward scheme and try to encourage local councils around the forest to implement their own policies to tackle the issue.

A spokeswoman for the corporation said: “Householders are responsible for their own rubbish. Community support is crucial to stamp out this damaging practice and we are hoping for more local authority partners to come on board.

“The rise in fly-tipping activity in the Forest appears to be related to the substantial cost increased imposed by the Landfill Tax Escalator and the recession is also a key driver.”

Anyone who sees any fly-tipping is urged to call Epping Forest Keepers on 020 8532 1010.