New powers for local authorities to clamp down on litter came into effect this week. Measures to prevent and penalise litter offenders include increasing fines from £50 to £80, fines for those who leave domestic waste out at the wrong times, restrictions on the distribution of flyers, and the requirement of businesses and individuals to clear litter from their land.
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has urged local authorities to use these powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.
“In the coming 12 months we will expect to see a concerted effort by all councils to use their new powers easily, extensively and effectively,” she said.
Previous legislation had given local authorities the power to fine £50 for littering, dog fouling, graffiti and fly-posting. But they can now set rates anywhere between £50 and £80 and offer discounts for early payment.
Beckett said in light of the new flexibility and the fact that councils had asked for these powers there would be “no excuses” for inaction. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will be closely monitoring councils on how they are using the Act on the ground, and will be working with poor performers to bring them up to scratch.
Beckett was also keen to promote a closer relationship between local authorities and businesses. She said: “The campaigning power of businesses could be used hand-in-hand with the enforcement powers of local authorities to educate and enforce responsible behaviour. We will be looking closely at how we can stimulate this co-ordinated effect.”