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Litter levels fall to five-year low

Litter levels have fallen 5% to a five-year low and the number of local authorities issuing fines for litter has shot up, according to newly released Government figures.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that there had been a 45% increase in the number of local authorities issuing fines for litter and an improvement in collection rates for fines. The findings came from this years Local Environmental Quality Survey of England (LEQSE).

Local Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said: Performance on litter has moved to satisfactory levels, which is very good news.

A closer look at the figures revealed that levels were being maintained for many types of litter but for others, such as fast food litter, levels had gone up. Drinks-related litter, for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic litter had also gone up over the last three years. So clearly there remains a lot of work for us to do in order to bring about a significant rise in standards, Bradshaw added.

The number of fixed penalty notices issued for local environmental offences increased from 29,086 in 2004/05 to 38,062 in 2005/06 and the payment rate went up from 53% to 57% in the same time.

However, 22% of local authorities are achieving payment rates of less than 50%, which is not good enough. To continue to accept poor payment rates sends a signal to the wider community that an authority doesn't take enforcement seriously and to those that don't pay that they have nothing to fear, Bradshaw said.

The survey results come at a time when council leaders are considering using shock tactics to make the public aware of the scale of street littering.

Local Government Association environment board chairman Paul Bettison said: Using shock tactics like stopping street cleaning services for 24 hours is an effective way of making people face up to how much litter is dropped on our street every day.


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