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Mother is first to be prosecuted under new act

A mother with three children is believed to be the first person in Britain to be prosecuted under Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act.

Donna Challice of Exeter, Devon faces fines of up to £1,000 for failing to separate her household rubbish into recyclable and non-recyclable items.

With the act giving local authorities the power to dictate which items are disposed of in which bin, Challice, 30, is accused of contaminating refuse from 300 other households by putting non-recyclables in her green recycling bin.

The matter arose when Exeter City Council sent warning letters to more than 1,500 residents earlier this year reminding them that green bins are intended for recyclables such as paper, plastic and cans only while a black bin is provided for other refuse.

Challice was one of 12 householders to get a third and final letter warning them of prosecution if they failed to comply. But while her case is due to be heard at Cullompton Magistrates Court on Monday May 22, the parent dismissed the matter.

She said: “I’ve got far more important things to worry about. I have tried to do it [recycle] properly. My kids don’t do it, it’s down to me.

But I am not going to court. I don’t drive and the court is 15 miles away.”

While Miss Challice described the council’s actions as “petty”, an Exeter City Council spokesman said that legal action was taken only as a last resort and that the prosecution would send out a “stark warning” about recycling rules.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed that it was the first such action to be brought under the act, with members of the public now also facing on-the-spot fines of £100 for disobeying recycling rules.

Exeter MP and Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said that not taking recycling seriously damages the environment and costs taxpayers money.

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