Headlines: June 7th, 2005

Local authorities get new powers from today to deal with fly-tipping and litter as the first of the measures in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act comes into force. From today fly-tipping becomes an arrestable offence and the most serious cases could result in maximum fines of 50,000 pounds or five years in prison.The new measures mean that people caught dumping waste will also no longer be able to use the defence of ‘acting under employer’s instructions’. The hard-line approach is in line with the Government’s commitment to tackle fly-tipping, at a time when new figures show there is an illegal tipping incident somewhere in Britain every 35 seconds.

In addition to dealing with litter and fly-tipping, the parts of the Act that coming into force give extra powers to councils to deal with fly-posting and with the sale or repair of vehicles on the road as part of a business. The Act also reminds people that discarded chewing gum and cigarettes are litter and imposes penalties accordingly. Those dropping gum or cigarette butts can be given 50 pound on the spot fines, rising to 75 pounds in the near future.

Local Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw, explained that the littering offences had also been extended to include all open spaces , including rivers, lakes, ponds and private property. In the past it was not an offence to drop litter on someone else’s property. He said the new rules would give Local Authorities more power to tackle environment crime, and make everyone think about the environment around them. He hoped councils would use them to deter people from dropping anything, anywhere at any time.

“People want to live in a clean, pleasant environment, but we all have to play our part in ensuring that is what we achieve. Hopefully the new Act will see a change in mindset, improvements in our local environment, and pride restored to our communities,” he added. Mr Bradshaw said he hoped to bring most of the remaining measures of the Act in to force by April next year.