We live in an inspiring country, with a rich mix of rural beauty and urban chic, an intriguing history, a vibrant culture, passion and style. Our country is small, but we’ve given much more to the world than we’ve taken back. We have so much to be proud of.
But we have a problem. Scotland could be even better if it wasn’t scarred by environmental issues such as:
- Dog fouling
- Flyposting and graffiti
These all affect the quality of life of people living in, and visitors to, Scotland. The problem is not simply a visual one – there are social, health and financial consequences to our environmental quality problems, and they provide additional reasons for us to take action.
Socially, there is a proven link between environmental issues and the fear of crime – people feel safer in cleaner communities. Our health is also affected, with higher levels of depression, illness and medical interventions amongst people who live in areas that have poor local environmental quality.
There are severe financial consequences too. Householders and landowners spend significant sums of money clearing mess from their own land, and Scotland spends at least £75 million of public money on litter and flytipping each year (£50 million currently spent on tackling the problem, and at least a further £25 million addressing its wider consequences). Furthermore, with tourism worth over £4bn a year to Scotland, and scenery and landscape being given as the number one reason for visiting Scotland, the consequences are clear.
Legislation alone is not the answer to our litter problems and the voluntary actions of normal people have a large part to play in litter reduction. However, it is important that there is legislation to underpin our national commitment to making Scotland shine.
Under the terms of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, there are a group of defined bodies knows as ‘Duty Bodies’ which have a responsibility to keep their land clear of litter and refuse. They are usually local authorities and other statutory undertakers such as Network Rail, schools, colleges and universities. Their responsibilities surrounding the maintenance of cleanliness in their area are contained in a Code of Practice, accompanying Part IV, section 89 of the Act.
It is possible for these duty bodies to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to people dropping litter of £80.
It is also possible, under the Act, for local authorities to require certain private businesses, such as takeaways, to keep the front of their premises free of litter.