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MPs BACK COUNCILS' CALL FOR TOUGHER SENTENCING ON ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME

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Responding to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report on Environmental Crime: Fly-posting, Fly-ti...
Responding to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report on Environmental Crime: Fly-posting, Fly-tipping, Litter, Graffiti and Noise, Ron Watson, chair of the Local Government Association's environment and regeneration executive, said:

'The LGA has long campaigned for an overhaul of the way fly-tipping and other environmental crimes are punished in order to safeguard communities from persistent offenders - and we are pleased to see the committee has backed our call.

'We believe that current penalties are insufficient to deter criminals who cause a blight on neighbourhoods by dumping waste, spreading graffiti, fly-posting and dropping litter.

'More must be done to ensure the punishment fits the crime. Commercial fly-posters and fly-tippers who see paltry fines as an acceptable business cost will only be deterred by significant and escalating penalties.

'As recommended by the committee, the LGA is already leading a project, in partnership with central government and the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), to share good practice in this area with councils up and down the country.

'Local councils are determined to continue developing and sharing better ways of working - and yet despite rising levels of waste and spiralling disposal costs, council budgets for keeping our streets and parks clean are often eaten up by current central government spending priorities in education and social services.

'Councils are the ones who clean up after those environmental criminals who cause a blight on our communities for profit, through selfishness or through simple ignorance of the rules and regulations. If the government were to match just one per cent of the cost of street sweeping on a sustained, high-profile nationwide campaign to tackle the root of the problem, not just its symptoms, cash would be freed up to make vital improvements.'

NOTE

Urgent funding pleas to enable councils to meet the many environmental targets being imposed on them by either central government or the EU were ignored in the chancellor's spending review. Fly-tipping, graffiti and abandoned vehicles only scratch the surface of what councils are responsible for. And with the volume of waste rising by around three per cent each year, soaring collection and disposal costs and a host of upcoming EU directives which will place new obligations on all authorities to improve standards of waste collection and disposal, councils face a huge challenge to keep ahead of the game. Without more funding to invest in new infrastructure and waste management methods as well as keep up with higher day-to-day costs, local aspirations and national targets will not be met.

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