Defra to consult on litter enforcement guidance

Proposals to modify the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse in England will come under public scrutinythrough a consultation launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on 10 April.

The proposals will see the government issuing stronger guidance to enforcement authorities surrounding the ‘proportionate and effective use of fixed penalties (civil and criminal) against littering and related offences.’

Updated guidance was promised in the government’s Litter Strategy, which was published this time last year, and comes following the recent increase in the maximum on-the-spot fine for littering and graffiti, which went up from £80 to £150 on 1 April.

Car users can now also face fines if they are caught throwing litter from their vehicles, something Mary Creagh MP, Chair of Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, criticised in her speech at the Kit Strange memorial lecture in Westminster in February.

Since the Litter Strategy was launched, Defra has also developed an online ‘stats dashboard’ to track data around litter and attitudes to litter, as well as to monitor how the government is keeping up with the aims of the Strategy.

In the Litter Strategy, the government stated that new guidance would make it clear that fixed penalties should only be used in a ‘proportionate’ manner, and should not be related to targets based on number or amount of fines, nor should penalties be used by councils as ‘a means to generate income’. The revenue from penalties is in most cases ring-fenced to be used in relation to the original offence, for instance clearing litter and covering graffiti.

The guidance will also be relevant to the use of fixed penalties for other environmental offences, for instance fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles and ‘nuisance parking’.

The proposed guidance is available to view via the government website, and Defra is asking for responses to the following questions:

  1. Are any aspects of the guidance unclear?
  2. What changes, if any, will you need to make to existing practices in order to comply with the new guidance?
  3. What do you estimate would be the costs of making any changes in order to comply with the guidance?
  4. Do you foresee any savings attributable to compliance with the guidance?

The consultation closes on 8 June 2018.

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