Higher fines and education included in Government's first Litter Strategy

New £150 fines for littering are among the measures considered in the Government's new Litter Strategy which aims to reduce the £800 million annual cost of clearing litter.

The Government wants to build an anti-litter culture. Image: Gordon Joly/Flickr
The Government wants to build an anti-litter culture. Image: Gordon Joly/Flickr

The Government has launched a consultation on a review of fixed penalty fines for littering in its first Litter Strategy for England published today.

The current fine is between £50 - £80, with a default fine of £75 applying unless the relevant local council specifies a different amount but this figure has not changed since 2006 in England. In Wales, the maximum fine for littering offences is already £125.

Subject to the consultation and Parliamentary approval, any changes to the fines will be delivered through amendments to regulations in the current financial year.

It is also considering introducing new regulations for English councils to fine drivers when it can be proved litter was thrown from their vehicle – even if it was discarded by somebody else. London boroughs already have this power. It will also issue improved guidance for councils on how to use their enforcement powers proportionately and appropriately.

Further new measures drawn up by environment, transport and communities departments include:

  • 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.
  • Issuing new guidance for councils on creative new designs and better distribution of public litter bins, making it easier for people to discard rubbish.

Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom 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."

Funding will also be made available to support innovative community-led projects to tackle litter that could turn local success stories into national initiatives.

The Government will follow the strategy with a new national anti-littering campaign in 2018, working with industry and the voluntary sector to drive behaviour change.

The consultation on the new enforcement measures officially opens today. Guidance will then be issued to councils to accompany any new enforcement powers, to make sure they are targeted at cutting litter, while preventing over-zealous enforcement or fines being used to raise revenue.

Litter key facts:

  • Street cleaning cost local government £778m in 2015/16.
  • The National Crime Survey has found that 28-30% of people perceive "litter and rubbish lying around" to be a problem in their area and 81% of people are angry and frustrated by the amount of litter lying all over the country.
  • In the 2016 Great British Beach Clean 802 litter items were collected per 100 metres of beach in England.
  • Last year the RSPCA received over 5,000 phone calls about litter-related incidents affecting animals.
  • Around 900 litter-picking groups are registered on the LitterAction website, run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and CleanupUK
  • The Clean for the Queen community event saw a quarter of a million litter-pickers volunteer to clean up streets, parks and beaches in March 2016.

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