Rubbish Roundup 19th January
Rubbish Roundup 19th January
The Welsh Government plans to change the law to punish litter louts who throw litter out of their car window. Welsh local authorities spend millions each year clearing up roadside litter, and the teams of workers who are sent out to pick it up are putting their lives at risk. The government has said ‘no more’ and plans to punish vehicle owners, regardless of whether they threw the litter or not. The vehicle owner would not even need to be present in the car at the time of the incident.
Roadside littering costs a fortune to clear up (Merthyr Tydfil council alone spent over £2.6 million clearing up after litter louts in the past 4 years). Roads often to have be closed, and councils often have to pay workers overtime to do the clean-ups, yet to date, nobody has been fined for throwing litter from a vehicle.
The maximum penalty for throwing litter out of a vehicle is £2500, and this may sound like a definite deterrent. But the problem is that under the current legislation, the council have to actually see someone throwing the litter in the first place, then identify the driver and prove in court that they threw the litter. The council aren’t able to legally follow or stop vehicles if they believe that an offence has taken place.
The changes in the law would give Welsh councils the power to fine the owner of the vehicle, and there would be no need for the council to prove who threw the litter. The government say that enforcement is only part of the solution to the litter problem and that encouraging behavioural change remains a priority.
Sticking with our legal theme, Gloucester City Council is searching for a private firm of ‘litter police’ to enforce litter rules over the next five years.
The council’s current contract with 3GS is coming to an end. Figures show that 3GS handed out more than 1800 fines in just under a year, and 101 of those fined were prosecuted for failing to pay.
As well as cracking down on litter, the council wants to crack down on dog fouling and fly-posting.
The contract with 3GS was a trial, and the council says that the streets of the city are much cleaner. 3GS officers will remain in place until March when a new service provider will step in.
The ‘litter police’ initiative is funded from the income from fines and costs the taxpayer nothing. Fines vary depending on the offence, and they can range from £75 for dropping litter to £400 for dumping waste.
Rounding off our roundup this week is the news that fly-tippers could face jail as part of a new government crack-down on dumping waste.
Fly-tipping is a scourge on our streets, parks, beaches, and beauty spots, whether it’s businesses or householders who want to avoid charges at the tip or the ‘man with a van’ who offers to remove your waste for a fee, then goes on to dump it.
A task force has been put together to tackle ‘serious and organised’ waste crimes like dumping hazardous waste on private land and falsifying labels on waste exports.
Government figures show that serious waste crime costs our economy a huge £600 million per year and that the offenders are usually linked to other serious crimes like fraud and modern slavery.
Figures released back in November showed that councils in England dealt with over one million incidents of fly-tipping in the space of just a year.
The chairman of the new task force, known as the Joint Unit for Waste Crime and Fly-tipping (JUWC) said that it was a huge step forward in the war against waste crime. He added that with the help of law enforcement and other partners like environmental regulators, HMRC, and the National Crime Agency, it will work to bring down waste criminals for good. The task force will build on the work that the Environment Agency is doing to tackle waste crime. In 2018, the Environment Agency managed to halt illegal waste activity at over 900 sites, and recovered almost £3million in fines from businesses and individuals found guilty of offences.
The Environment Secretary said that waste crime is a scourge on the environment and added that the new taskforce will crack down on offenders. She went on to say that criminals who are involved in other illegal enterprises often move into waste crime. She said that the taskforce will close down illegal waste sites and make criminals pay for what they’ve done, whether through fines or by serving a jail term.