LARGE bags of rotting meat that have been dumped in Purbeck presented a 'serious health hazard', environment officers have said.

In recent weeks there have been several incidents of large white bags of both raw and cooked meat being fly-tipped in East Stoke and Bere Regis.

Some of these bags are so heavy that lifting equipment has needed to be brought in to remove them.

And, according to investigators, evidence at the scene of one of the dump sites links the meat to abattoirs in Bedford, Northern Ireland and Wales, Dorset Council.

Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for customer and community services, said: “Dealing with fly-tipped waste is unpleasant at the best of times.

"But investigating and clearing up something as disgusting as rotting meat is something our employees simply shouldn’t have to do, and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped deal with this mess.

"Our Enforcement Team are now on the case and need your help in helping catch the criminals responsible for dumping the waste."

It is believed that given the amount of meat being dumped, plus the fact much of it is individually wrapped, that it has come from a commercial source or someone who has been paid to dispose of the waste on their behalf.

Officers are also looking into whether any local premises have recently closed that may have produced this kind of waste.

While fly-tipping remains a problem in most of the country, it is unusual for waste of this kind to be illegally dumped in Dorset, says the council. However, officials also say the pandemic may have been a factor as many businesses have struggled to sell and use up existing stock, especially those in the event catering sector.

Enforcement Officers are now asking residents if they have seen anything suspicious in the areas surrounding Binnegar Lane, Hyde Road, Lower Woodbury Crossroads and Lane End – all in the Wareham/East Stoke/Bere Regis areas – over the last week or two.

Cllr Haynes said: "If you have any information at all that might help us find whoever was responsible for this fly-tipping, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

"Remember, fly-tipping is a criminal offence, punishable of fines of up to £50,000, or 12-months imprisonment if convicted in a magistrates' court.

"The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment if convicted in a crown court.”