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New environmental powers could be misused by councils to raise revenue rather than clean up the streets....
New environmental powers could be misused by councils to raise revenue rather than clean up the streets.

That claim has come from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, whose members will enforce many of the rules.

It denounced the Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act, which took effect last week, as 'practically useless'.

The Act allows councils to impose£80 fines for litter, graffiti, fly-posting and fly-tipping offences.There will be£100 fines for burglar alarms left ringing for more than 20 minutes.

Abandoned vehicles will attract£200 fines, and light pollution up to£20,000.

Describing the Act as 'unworkable' institute principal policy officer Howard Price said fine income 'could tempt cash-strapped authorities simply to raise revenue through the back door', rather than act according to good practice.

He said councils should be barred from incentivising officers according to the number of penalties imposed.

Mr Price said: 'The purpose behind parts of this Act seems to be for the government to be seen to be doing something, regardless of whether there is evidence of a real problem or a significant gap in existing powers.'

But Local Government Association environment board chair David Sparks (Lab) said: 'Larger fines and the ability to issue on the spot penalties will give councils the power to deal effectively with [those] who spoil the local area for the rest of the community.'

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