Headlines: March 5th, 2008

Countryside campaigners want central government, local councils and other enforcement bodies to make a concerted effort to clean up litter and fly-tipping.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England says the problems are most acute in rural areas,where litter and illegally dumped rubbish often remain unmoved longer than in towns and cities.

The CPRE was reacting to the annual Local Environmental Quality Survey, based on information from 54 local authorities in all nine regions of England, which, it said, showed the headline indicator on litter had slipped from ‘Satisfactory’ to ‘Unsatisfactory’. It said the figures were a message to those bodies charged with enforcing litter laws that they need to do more to clean up their act.

Ben Stafford, Head of Campaigns at CPRE, said litter was a problem that had to be addressed at all levels and went on, “The starting point, of course, is that people should not drop it. But unfortunately litter does get dropped, and it is then essential that those bodies with the authority and the duty to clean it up do so.

In his reaction to the survey, the Environment Minister, Jonathan Shaw, said local authorities were making use of new powers to tackle the problem. “Fixed Penalty Notices are up, and fine payment rates are up.

They are doing more to remove the offending litter and keep the streets clean,” he said but Mr.Stafford said the picture was patchy.

Mr. Shaw said litter was caused by a handful of people who did not care that the problem they created cost everyone money to sort out but he accepted more needed to be done. “This survey shows that we are making progress in some areas. But there is much room for improvement and we can’t let up in the battle against this blight,” he said and added that help was being given to poorer performing local authorities to help them improve. A new environmental skills website is being launched to support the work already being done by ENCAMS, the charity behind the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign.