Minister launches litter Act

The first raft of measures from the long-awaited Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act came into force on Tuesday, June 7 giving local authorities greater power to tackle litter and fly-tipping.

Unsurprisingly the bill has been welcomed by anti-litter groups as it provides a powerful tool for councils combating the problem.

Under the act fly-tipping will become an arrestable offence, with the most serious cases resulting in a maximum £50,000 fine or five years imprisonment.

Those caught illegally dumping waste will also no longer be able to use the defence of ‘acting under employer’s instructions’.

The new hard-line approach underpins the Government’s commitment to tackle fly-tipping, as new figures showed that an incident is occurring every 35 seconds in the UK.

The act also reminds people that chewing gum and cigarette butts are litter, with penalties accordingly.

Local Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw, said: “Gum droppers and smokers chucking away cigarette butts can be given on the spot fines of £50, which will soon go up to £75.

“So why risk being fined when it’s so easy just to pop the butt or your gum in the bin?”

He explained that the littering offences have also been extended to include all open spaces – rivers, lakes, ponds and private property – in the past it was not an offence to drop litter on other people’s property.

“The new rules will give local authorities more power to tackle environment crime, and make everyone think about the environment around them,” he added.

“So I hope they will use these new powers to deter people from dropping anything, anywhere at any time.”

The remaining measures in the act are expected to be introduced by April 2006.

By Sam Bond

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