Government working on national litter strategy

Government working on national litter strategyWork has begun on a first-ever national litter strategy that ‘will put in place a coherent clean-up plan for England’, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced.

The government will work with local authorities (LAs), campaign groups and businesses, including fast food restaurants and manufacturers of chewing gum, confectionary and soft drinks. It believes that this will create a ‘collective sense of responsibility’ over the issue.

The announcement was made in the government’s response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s seventh report of session 2014-15 on litter and fly-tipping in England.

The report sets out a series of recommendations for government, including the establishment of a litter strategy for England. In response, the government said that it is ‘watching with interest’ the progress being made by environmental campaign charity Hubbub and INCPEN (the Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment) in “bringing together a wide range of key stakeholders to discuss some of these issues in more detail”.

DCLG also said that it agreed with the committees suggestion that local councils can play a key role in coordinating the local activity of volunteers, campaign groups, businesses and other initiatives such as community payback schemes that focus on litter removal, as well as carrying out their statutory roles in respect of street cleansing, providing infrastructure and enforcement.

The strategy may also be financially beneficial; street cleaning is estimated to cost English taxpayers almost £1 billion a year.

‘Robust’ response to persistent, costly and avoidable problem

Announcing that the strategy will be developed, Communities Minister Marcus Jones said: “Littering and fly-tipping are deeply anti-social and unnecessary. It is not right that the behaviour of a selfish minority ends up blighting our landscapes and communities, while imposing costs for landowners and local taxpayers.

“We will work with communities and businesses to ensure that our national clean-up plan will be robust. Litter is a persistent, costly and avoidable problem and it is only right we take collective responsibility to end this scourge.

“Earlier this year, hundreds of communities across the country answered a call to arms to help liberate their local areas from the litter louts who have blighted them for so long. This first-ever Community Clear Up day proved there was an enormous appetite across the country to tackle this problem and due to its success we want to make this annual event.

“We will work with people of all ages and backgrounds who take great pride in their local communities so they can come together every year to send a clear message that littering will not be tolerated.”

Environment Minister Rory Stewart added: “We all have a responsibility to keep our communities tidy and our plans will improve the way we work together to tackle this persistent, costly and avoidable problem. We are also giving councils new power to tackle small-scale fly-tipping and we will be reviewing the case for higher fixed penalties for littering.”

Survey missing from plan

National anti-litter charity Keep Britain Tidy has welcomed the government’s decision to create a national strategy for combating litter, but has said that its continued refusal to hold a national litter survey risks its ability to successfully deliver on any new strategy.

It also said that the government has missed ‘clear opportunities to take specific action’ on persistent and prominent issues like littering from vehicles and cigarette littering.

Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “The government appears to have taken on board calls from Keep Britain Tidy for leadership on the issue of litter. However, without a regular survey of litter around the country, it’s difficult to envisage how we can have an effective litter strategy.

“It is also disappointing to see a continuing emphasis on tackling litter and fly-tipping at a local level without any acknowledgement of the impact of austerity on local authorities’ ability to deal with these issues.”

Learn more about the government’s litter strategy.