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TIDY BRITAIN GROUP BACKS REVISED LITTER LAWS

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The new Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, launched this week, is welcomed by leading environmental charity Tid...
The new Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, launched this week, is welcomed by leading environmental charity Tidy Britain Group. The group is now urging councils to take more advantage of the laws to get litter off the streets.

The vode, which sets out what councils must do about litter clearance and should do about prevention, has been updated because it was not working effectively in its existing form. A recent TBG survey with local councils supports this claim.

The survey, which asked councils how they used the old litter laws , showed that only 5.1% of councils that replied, had prosecuted members of the public for littering using section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA). And what's more, out of these 236 prosecutions, 211 were brought by the same council!

On the spot litter fines (Fixed Penalty Notices) were slightly more popular with councils, with a bout a quarter of them adopting this scheme. However, only 32% - that's just 16 councils, actually issued fines during the research period. Tidy Britain Group was also disappointed that only 5.2% more councils were thinking of adopting the scheme.

Commenting on the new Code of Practice, councils at a recent group conference said:

- There is still not a clear all encompassing definition of litter and refuse

- No recommendations for water-borne litter

Sounding a note of caution, Graham Ashworth, chief executive of Tidy Britain Group comments:

'Although we welcome the improvements made to the Code of Practice, there are clearly some concerns expressed by councils on how effective it will be. We must also not lose sight of the fact that the public must be continually made aware that they are causing the litter problem in the first place.

'Obviously there were flaws with the old version, which was just not being used effectively. Whether this was a fault with the code or with the councils themselves failing to take full advantage of the measures available to them, remains to be seen, as we keep an eye on how the new Code is being used.'

Notes

1.Other interesting facts thrown up by the research were:

- Only 4 of the local councils that responded to the survey had received letters from the public wishing to use their powers of redress under section 91 of the EPA (Litter Abatement Orders).

- Out of these, summonses were served on 2 councils, but no Litter Abatement Orders resulted.

- One of the most popular tools under the EPA was section 99, the retrieval of abandoned shopping or luggage trolleys, with almost a third of councils adopting a scheme to deal with this problem.

- A total of 5140 shopping trolleys were retrieved during the 97/98 financial year.

- Over half of the local councils responding received up to 200 complaints or reports about litter.

2.The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse Price£17.99 ISBN 0-11-753479-X from The Stationery Office.

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