Local authorities will not be allowed to charge householders for using civic amenity sites as part of the new litter strategy.
The Litter Strategy for England, published by Defra, the Department for Transport and the Dpeartment for Communities and Local Government, aims to reduce the £800 million burden to the taxpayer of clean-up costs.
Under the new measures, the most serious litterers could be hit with the £150 fines, while vehicle owners could receive penalty notices when it can be proved litter was thrown from their car – even if it was discarded by somebody else.
The new motoring rules, which are already in force in London, make owners liable even if they didn’t throw the litter themselves.
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom (pictured) said: “Litter is something that affects us all – blighting our countryside, harming our wildlife, polluting our seas, spoiling our towns, and giving visitors a poor impression of our country.
“Our litter strategy will tackle this antisocial behaviour by building an anti-litter culture; making it easier for people to dispose of rubbish; and hitting litter louts in the pocket.
“We want to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, and tackling litter is an important part of our drive to make the country a better place to live and visit.”
Further new measures drawn up by environment, transport and communities departments include:
- Issuing new guidance for councils to be able to update the nation’s ‘binfrastructure’ through creative new designs and better distribution of public litter bins, making it easier for people to discard rubbish.
- Stopping councils from charging householders for disposal of DIY household waste at civic amenity sites (rubbish dumps) – legally, household waste is supposed to be free to dispose of at such sites.
- Recommending that offenders on community sentences, including people caught fly-tipping, help councils clear up litter and fly-tipped waste.
- Working with Highways England to target the 25 worst litter hotspots across our road network to deliver long-lasting improvements to cleanliness.
- Creating a ‘green generation’ by educating children to lead the fight against litter through an increased number of Eco-Schools and boosting participation in national clean-up days.
- Creating a new expert group to look at further ways of cutting the worst kinds of litter, including plastic bottles and drinks containers, cigarette ends and fast food packaging.
CIWM welcomed the broad range of actions proposed, from improved communications that include a ‘world class’ national campaign in 2018, through to more effective enforcement and greater engagement and collaboration with the retail and packaging supply chain.
“This is a welcome plan to tackle a persistent problem that has a negative economic, environmental and social impact on our communities,” said CIWM chief executive Colin Church. “It is not an easy problem to solve, and the strategy rightly focuses on exploring and developing both voluntary and regulatory measures that could apply to a range of stakeholders. It acknowledges the challenge of providing the right infrastructure to make it easy for people to do the right thing – disposing of their litter properly and ‘recycling on the go’ – and the role of major high street retailers and brands in promoting behaviour change.
“We are also pleased to see a commitment to strengthening the enforcement powers against offenders, including littering from vehicles which is a form of antisocial behaviour that has been particularly difficult for the relevant authorities to tackle. Clear messages about the potential consequences of littering are an important deterrent and have been seen to have a positive impact in other countries. The strategy makes repeated reference to the need for enforcement to be appropriate and proportionate and CIWM agrees with this; although it should be noted that most local authorities see the use of the toughest measures very much as a last resort.
“There are areas where further work and evidence is needed, particularly on the subject of how other waste management services impact on litter and fly-tipping. For example, the role and scope of charging at HRWCs for DIY waste is an ongoing discussion and it is important in the context of current budget pressures that local authorities do not end up carrying the cost for wastes that should have been borne by a contractor. Changes to the law must not provide loopholes that allow commercial operators to avoid their waste Duty of Care and legal responsibilities.
“There is a lot of work proposed on packaging and labelling and a number of private sector companies and associations have already shown a commitment to play their part. Some commentators will say that the voluntary approach is too light touch, however, so it is important that the Government remains behind the commitment expressed by Lord Gardiner in his foreword that further regulation is not being ruled out “if that is what is required to achieve real change.
“Funding all the work proposed in the strategy will also be challenging and CIWM has concerns about the proposal to reduce the ring fencing of income from fixed penalty fines for environmental offences. With priority areas such as social care taking ever larger proportions of the council budget, it is important that money can be earmarked for the effective enforcement, the infrastructure, and the communications initiatives highlighted in this strategy.”