Local Environmental Audit
and Management System
Clean streets, towns, cities, parks and open spaces are important to all of us. They make the places where we live, work and travel more pleasant and ultimately improve our quality of life. Issues such as litter and dog fouling spoil our environment. They give the appearance of places being uncared for and devalue neighbourhoods as locations in which to live and work. Not only this, each year these issues cost Scotland more than £50 million to deal with.
To monitor issues such as litter, dog fouling, flytipping, flyposting and graffiti, and in partnership with Scotland’s local authorities, we carry out annual local environmental quality surveys at a random selection of sites across Scotland every year. This information enables local authorities to be efficient with their local cleaning activity and informs their policies and campaigns to tackle these issues. It also supports the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (Scotland) 2018 which require local authorities and others to keep specified land and public roads clean and litter-free.
The approach we use is called the Local Environmental Audit and Management System (or LEAMS) and the audits collect information on litter types and source. Alongside this, other indicators such as weeds, graffiti, flytipping and vandalism, are also recorded to provide an overall picture of every site. Audits are carried out by each local authority as well as by us (to provide independence and validation).
The 2017/18 LEAMS audit
During the 2017/18 financial year, 93 audits took place, three in each local authority area. In total, 13,606 individual sites were assessed for litter and local environmental quality.
This year’s LEAMS audit highlights some expected and continuing trends:
- Urban areas tend to observe the highest proportion of issues
- Cigarette ends are the most common litter type
- Food and drink packaging litter is common, particularly along roadside verges
- Weed growth and detritus are becoming a more visible detractor from good environmental quality
- Graffiti, flyposting and gum staining are not uncommon in town/city centre areas
- The general public are the main source of litter in the environment
- Dog fouling is an issue in high density residential areas
The reasons for these trends are complex and there are many factors which play a part. Local authority budget cuts are one obvious aspect, and one which is not likely to change in the immediate future. However, there are other factors which are also having an impact – an increase in packaging, particularly single-use disposable food and drinks packaging, population dense communities and challenges assiciated with community cohesion.
Over halfof all local authorities have seen an increase in significantly littered sites.
87%of main roads have food and drink packaging litter.
1 in 6footpaths and verges in high density areas have dog fouling.
About the LEAMS approach
LEAMS uses a standard approach to record litter. Five grades are used to assess the overall presence of litter at an audited site:
|Grade A||No litter|
|Grade B+||Predominantly free of litter – up to three small items|
|Grade B||Predominantly free of litter|
|Grade C||Widespread distribution of litter with minor accumulations|
|Grade D||Heavily littered with significant accumulations|
*Sites that score either a grade C or D are considered unacceptable and require cleaning.
LEAMs records the following:
- Dog fouling
- Royal Mail elastic bands
- Plastic bags
- Coffee cups
- Other: such as newspaper, plastic fragments and chewing gum
- Pedestrian waste: including drink cans, confectionery wrappers, fast food packaging and cigarette butts
- Business waste: any waste that has come directly from a business
- Domestic waste: for example, household packaging or spillage from refuse collection
- Construction waste: such as sand bags and builders’ rubble
- Animal faeces: any type of animal faeces
- Detritus: such as twigs, leaves, grass and sand which can trap litter
- Staining: for example, from chewing gum
- Litter bins: the number of litter bins is recorded, as well as whether the bin is full / overflowing (these are bins which are over three quarters full)
Type of local authority
To enable easier comparison, local authorities are grouped together into four ‘clubs’. These are based on population and the distribution of population. Club 1 authorities are generally more rural, clubs 2 and 3 are mixed rural/urban (with club 3 having more urban areas than club 2) and club 4 covers the most urban authorities.
|Local authority clubs|
|Club 1||Eilean Siar, Argyll and Bute, Shetland Islands, Highland, Orkney Islands, Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Aberdeenshire|
|Club 2||Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Moray, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, North Ayrshire, Fife|
|Club 3||Angus, Clackmannanshire, Midlothian, South Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, West Lothian, East Renfrewshire|
|Club 4||North Lanarkshire, Falkirk, East Dunbartonshire, Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh, West Dunbartonshire, Dundee City, Glasgow City|
Street cleanliness and litter-related results
Scotland-wide street cleanliness
Since last year, the overall Scotland-wide street cleanliness score has fallen by almost 2%. This is the lowest average score for Scotland in more than ten years, This means that even more sites are spoilt by unacceptable amounts of litter, which devalue our neighbourhoods and cost money to clean up.
Common litter types
Wider local environmental quality results
As well as litter-related issues, there are a number of other factors which can negatively impact the places in which we live and work, and which we record as part of the LEAMS process:
This LEAM Benchmarking report 2017/18 highlights that, once again, the environmental quality of the places where we live, work and travel has declined. And, as we have highlighted, the reasons for this decline are complex with many factors which play a part.
However, the audit also shows that encouragingly, some local authorities are managing to maintain or improve standards from 2016/17 into 2017/18, so the sharing of best practice and benchmarking is clearly of benefit to all and provides the opportunity for learning and improvements to be made across local authorities.
Alongside these results, our 2016 report, Scotland’s Local Environmental Quality in Decline, and our update report in 2017, both show that local environmental quality is declining more severely and at a faster rate in our most deprived communities. This, in turn, effects health and well-being, fear of crime and has a detrimental impact upon the local economy.
So, in the light of this year’s LEAMS results and the complex nature of all the factors involved, the question is, how do we stop this decline in our environmental quality standards with less resources?
There is no easy answer to this problem. The litter prevention approach, as set out in Scotland’s National Litter Strategy, will only be possible if we all work together – local authorities, communities and businesses – to develop a strategic, realistic and achievable approach to break this downtrend.
With this in mind, Keep Scotland Beautiful will make every effort to develop programmes that can support all stakeholders in achieving clean, green and sustainable local environments.