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Maximum litter fines are to almost double from £80 to £150 from April 2018, Defra (the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) has announced. Councils will also be able to impose such fines on the owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown, even if it was discarded by someone else. The Westminster Government said these fines should not be abused simply as a means of raising money, so guidance on how fines should be applied will be issued to councils.
Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside and taxpayers’ money is wasted cleaning it up. Throwing rubbish from a vehicle is just as unacceptable as dropping it in the street and we will tackle this antisocial behaviour by hitting litter louts in the pocket. These new fines will make sure the perpetrators, not the local community, bear the cost of keeping our streets and roads clean.”
This follows a public consultation after the launch of England’s first Litter Strategy in April 2017. The minimum fine is proposed to increase from £50 to £65, while the default fine will increase from £75 to £100.
This was welcomed by the private security contractor Kingdom, a member of the ACS Pacesetters group, which offers an ‘Environmental Protection’ service, whereby its staff issue fixed penalty notices to offenders who are seen breaking the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in streets, parks and open spaces. Visit http://www.kingdom.co.uk/services/environmental-protection/.
In Bristol for instance Kingdom began on November 6; as set out by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees in his ‘clean streets strategy‘, seeking to make Bristol “measurably cleaner” by 2020. Kingdom Operations Director John Dunne said: “We will be using trained and experienced teams to work in collaboration with the council’s in-house teams in identified hotspots. Our aim is to reduce the amount of litter unlawfully dropped, resulting in a safer, greener and cleaner city.”
Rees blogged: “The fines will be used to pay for the enforcement service, meaning there will be no extra cost to the taxpayer. If there’s any surplus left over, we’ll use it to improve the city’s environment. In tandem, the Broadmead BID have given £1000 of gifts to the city. These will be randomly handed out to people spotted doing something to clean up Bristol.”
And at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Kingdom has started a 12 month trial providing similar services. Again, the contractor’s costs are covered by the income from the fines. Jim Smith, the councillor responsible for the environment at the Lancashire council, said: “Decent people have simply had enough of this disgusting behaviour. This litter enforcement service is about taking back the streets for these law-abiding citizens, and making offenders take responsibility for their actions. Time and time again people have told me that dog fouling and litter are important priorities for them.
“It can spoil streets and communities and is a blight for so many people. They have had enough of the selfish minority of people who spoil our neighbourhoods for everyone. The fine is a fair amount as some of that money will go into the health department to improve our parks and make our streets cleaner.”
At the Local Government Association, Martin Tett, the LGA’s environment spokesman said: “The LGA has long called for councils to have greater powers to tackle litter, which is a blight on the communities we serve, and these measures are a hugely positive step in the right direction. Councils being able to issue increased fines to litter louts, who show no consideration for the community they live in, will send a strong message to those who think their laziness is more important than the environment in which they live.
“Allowing councils to fine the owners of vehicles which litter is thrown from, rather than expecting councils to prove who exactly in the vehicle had thrown litter, is also something that the LGA has long called for. It is great that from April, councils will be able to get tough with the anti-social minority who think our roads are a repository for rubbish.
“We now need to see more detail in the forthcoming government guidance. Whilst recognising that any action must be proportionate, it must also be robust to deter abuse of the local environment. It is frequently the more deprived communities that suffer most from litter louting and where the demand for more enforcement is loudly heard. Local authorities are keen to get on with the job of tackling anti-social litter louts, and delivering local environments that our residents can be proud of.”