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Littering charges rise for the first time in 12 years

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Local authorities can now double their maximum on-the-spot fines for littering.

The maximum fine that councils can charge has risen from £80 to £150, while the default littering penalty has risen from £75 to £100. 

Government changes to littering penalities were made on 1 April - the last change was made in 2006.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “These new fines will tackle antisocial behaviour by hitting litter louts in the pocket, whether it’s litter that is thrown from a vehicle or dropped in the street.”

The latest government consultation on littering fines by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs could not find evidence that fines had a definitive impact on overall littering however as the last time that comprehensive data was collected was in 2008.

The government concluded in its Litter Strategy for England that it needed “better data on litter” to help measure whether its policies had led to a substantial reduction in litter and littering.

The most up-to-date estimate over litter-picking costs for local authorities was raised by the Communities and Local Government select committee in 2015, which reported a best estimate of between £717m to £850m.

The Defra consultation also recommended that litter fines be raised to “adjust for the effects of inflation”.

Default littering fines councils can charge since 1990

YearDefault fine
1990 £10
1996 £25
2003 £50
2005 £75 (Average)
2018 £100

The government’s announcement warned that councils must not “abuse” the new powers, however, as guidance orders that local circumstances must be taken into consideration when setting fines.

Local authorities will also be able to impose littering penalties against drivers for the first time if sufficient proof can be made.

Edmund King, president of motoring organisation the AA, said: “There is no excuse for car litter louts. Tossing rubbish from vehicles spoils the environment, costs millions and puts road workers’ lives at risk when they have to clear up. The majority of our members support higher fines for littering and we welcome these steps to tackle this unnecessary problem. It is not difficult for car occupants to bag it and bin it.”



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