Bill to clean up neighbourhoods becomes law

New powers to help councils clamp down on environmental crime such as fly tipping have become law after the Clean Neighbourhoods Act received Royal Assent.

This legislation will give local authorities a much-needed boost in their role of cleaning up local neighbourhoods and included granting them the powers to immediately seize vehicles that are caught fly tipping, to issue fixed penalty notices for fly posting, waste and graffiti offences, and allowing them to retain the receipts.

The passing of this act follows persistent lobbying by the Local Government Association (LGA) for greater powers to help councils tackle environmental crime.

"We welcome all-party commitment to getting this bill on the statute book and are delighted that councils will now have the additional legislative power they need to combat the scourge of local environmental crime, such as abandoned vehicles, fly tipping and discarded chewing gum," commented Councillor David Sparks, chairman of the LGA environment board.

"Environmental crime consistently tops polls of residents' concerns and the LGA has long argued that legislation, enforcement and penalties need to reflect its corrosive effects on our communities."

"This new act will enable quicker and more effective enforcement that will deter offenders and demonstrate that a clean, safe and green local environment is as much a priority for the council and local agencies as it is for residents and businesses."

Measures announced by Defra under the act, amongst other things, included more powers for local authorities to deal with:

  • fly tipped waste
  • litter
  • nuisance alleys
  • fly posting and graffiti
  • abandoned and nuisance vehicles
  • dogs
  • noise
  • nuisance from artificial lighting

    Cllr Sparks said the LGA was committed to working with Defra to develop guidance around the new powers and to help all authorities improve and develop their enforcement capacity.

    "Although councils will be able to retain the money generated from fines for offences, the goal is to stop environmental crime from happening in the first place," he explained.

    "It is essential that these new powers are backed up with funding to allow all councils to put in place the necessary staffing, training and systems to make the best of these resource-intensive but essential services."

    By Jane Kettle

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