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Working to encourage change on roadside litter legislation

Over the past year, through our Roadside Litter Campaign we have been working to identify opportunities to strengthen the enforcement system.

This is in line with the Scottish Government Litter Strategy, in particular intervention 11 which specifically identifies the opportunity to remove barriers to enforcement in relation to littering from vehicles.

Working with local authorities and a number of the members of the Roadside Litter Campaign Group we have identified the need and appetite to make a simple amendment to the wording of the relevant section of the existing legislation, enabling enforcement officers to issue fines to the registered keeper of the vehicle from which littering is observed – so they are held responsible for the offence regardless of their part in the action.

Under current legislation [1], littering is an offence that incurs a Fixed Penalty Charge of £80. However, the current wording of the legislation does not lend itself to being used successfully for enforcement against littering from vehicles. This is because it requires the person committing the offence to be identified by the enforcement officer and this is difficult to achieve when the offender is littering from a vehicle, often at speed.

Our research has highlighted that:

  • 50 tonnes of litter is abandoned on Scottish roadsides;
  • 96.2% of motorways and A class roadside verges recorded a presence of litter, with one in seven classed as 'significantly impacted' (LEAMS, 2015-16);
  • More than half of Scottish adults have seen someone throw litter from a vehicle and not pick it up;
  • 68% of Scottish adults think there is a problem with the amount roadside litter; and
  • 61% of Scottish adults disagree that there is currently enough action being taken to reduce the amount of roadside litter in Scotland.

We noted with interest the recent announcement from DEFRA, and Environment Minister Therese Coffey who announced late last month that new fines would be introduced in England for owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown.

Carole Noble, Operations Director said: “Alongside our campaign to raise awareness of the issue and change behaviour, and the cleansing duties placed on local authorities and road operating companies, we believe that there is a clear need to improve the legislation available to our enforcement officers to support action in Scotland.  A three-pronged attack would help us all to tackle this antisocial behaviour by hitting litter louts in the pocket.

“We would like to see the current legislation amended to enable fixed penalty notices of £80 to be issued to vehicle owners if it can be proved litter was thrown from their car, van or truck – even if it was discarded by somebody else.

“Of the more than 50% of Scottish local authorities that responded to our survey, 100% are in favour of a change to the legislation which will allow their enforcement officers to tackle littering from cars more effectively – this is why we are working with our partners, and engaging with the Scottish Government to encourage change.”

[1] Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 creates the offence of leaving litter. The FPN is created by S88 (as amended) and the amount of the fine is set by Order of the Scottish Ministers.

01 November 2017

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