Litter legislation lauded by lobbyists
Legislation that will give councils more powers to tackle waste and environmental offences has been welcomed by the Local Government Authority.The LGA, which lobbied hard for the legislation, is claiming the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, which comes into effect this summer, is already giving local authorities the confidence to get tough with those committing environmental crime.
The act is far reaching and covers a wide range of offences that impact on the environment from relatively minor littering and graffiti through to illegal transport and dumping of waste.
Under the act fly-tippers could face stiff fines and tough jail sentences, as well as having the vehicle used for the offence seized and destroyed.
There are new penalties for those responsible for nuisance burglar or car alarms and other noise pollution as well as measures to combat graffiti and fly postering.
Those dropping cigarette butts or chewing gum will no longer be able to argue this does not constitute littering and dog owners will find themselves in deep trouble if they do not clean up after their pets in public.
The first wave of changes will come into force in June with the rest phased in over the rest of the year.
The new powers will enable councils to act swiftly to keep public spaces clean and safe.
These powers aim to encourage individuals and businesses to be more responsible in disposing of their waste.
The Act has inspired action by a number of local authorities, says the LGA, citing examples such as Manchester City Council's zero tolerance campaign on littering with cigarette butts and Barnsley Council's recent prosecution of a driver who threw a chewing gum wrapper from his car window, resulting in a £260 fine.
The LGA is now pushing for more education to persuade the public to change behaviour and tidy up their act.
It argues that this would save local authorities the cost of cleaning up and enforcement and allow them to concentrate resources on improving the quality of their environment.
Cllr David Sparks, chairman of the LGA environment board said: "We have welcomed the recent development of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act receiving Royal Assent, which allows councils to hold greater powers in tackling environmental crime through enforcement.
"This has been a major lobbying victory for the LGA and all those authorities that have contributed to the lobbying process. But the work continues on making our environments cleaner and safer".
By Sam Bond