The government is being urged to give new powers to local authorities to fine people who litter from vehicles, ensuring littering is not “a consequence-free crime”.
Roadside littering and fly-tipping costs millions of pounds a year to clear up, and is particularly damaging in rural areas where it threatens wildlife and biodiversity.
In partnership with The Bridlington Free Press’ Clean Up Yorkshire campaign, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has launched a new petition to call for local councils to be extended the right to fine the registered keeper of a vehicle spotted littering, to ensure the crime is punished.
In 2014, the Government approved the necessary legislation but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has delayed producing the required regulations for over a year.
The powers are already available to local authorities in London, and were due to be extended to the rest of the country in April.
The petition calls on new Environment Secretary Liz Truss to put an end to delays and make sure councils know how to implement the new laws, which were agreed in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act a year ago.
Stop the Drop campaign manager for the CPRE, Samantha Harding, said: “Clearing roadsides is particularly costly and dangerous, so preventing littering from vehicles is extremely important.
“Local councils said for many years that they needed new powers to fine people who throw litter from vehicles, as a £75 fine will make most people think twice before throwing litter again.
“The Secretary of State must make sure her officials are taking the required action to bring this legislation to life and to prevent further littering from vehicles.”
The need for change was echoed by an influential group of MPs who held an inquiry into littering, published in March.
In its report, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee revealed how the Highways Agency cleared 150,000 bags of rubbish from the major road network in 2012/13 at a cost of around £6m - £40 per bag.
It said councils found it “almost impossible” to detect fly-tipping and that current penalties for littering from vehicles are “unenforceable”. It recommended the powers were extended immediately to all local authorities.
A Defra spokesperson said it is “taking time” to consider the recommendations of the Select Committee and will respond in “due course”.
She added: “We want everyone to enjoy a cleaner, healthier country and we will build on our recent successes, introducing tougher sentencing guidelines and increasing powers to seize vehicles suspected of use in fly-tipping. This way we can clamp down on those few people who spoil our local areas with litter”.
The Clean Up Yorkshire campaign has seen groups across the region hold litter picks throughout June.
Whether it’s taking a bag with you while you walk your dog, or organising an event in your community or workplace, we want to hear about it.