Whether it’s cigarette ends or crisp packets, litter spoils our streets and blights our green spaces. What’s worse, the culprits cost councils close to £800 million, a shocking drain on the public purse.
England prides itself on its iconic landscapes, and, from ramblers to surfers, it attracts millions of visitors every year. We can’t let litter louts put our reputation at risk: putting a stop to litter is a vital part of our ambition to become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.
It falls to all of us to keep our neighbourhoods litter, graffiti, and fly-poster free
This will not happen without a little bit of effort, and it falls to all of us to keep our neighbourhoods litter, graffiti, and fly-poster free. There are always those who see themselves as exceptions to the rule, and who clog up our rivers, hedgerows and town centres with their rubbish. The strategy we have just launched, the first of its kind in England, is designed to clean up our streets, making England an even better place to live and visit. It is built on three key pillars.
First, we want to make it easier and more convenient for people to dispose of rubbish. In places of heavy pedestrian traffic or in litter hot spots, we want to make sure there’s a bin close by, so there’s no excuse to leave rubbish lying around. This will encourage creative and innovative solutions that make it quicker and easier for people to throw their rubbish away.
Second, we want to make the next generation our most powerful advocates for clean towns and cities. Schools and parents do a great job in teaching children it’s wrong to drop litter, but with Eco-Schools, and through community clean-ups, they can play a bigger role in the fight against litterbugs. A national anti-littering campaign will educate a “green generation” to lead the fight against relentless rubbish-droppers.
When these initiatives aren’t enough, however, we want to make sure that the punishment fits the crime. The third part of our strategy is therefore stronger enforcement. New measures will include a consultation on proposals to double fines to £150 for litter louts, and make drivers responsible for rubbish thrown from vehicles, unless a passenger admits to the offence. These penalties are designed to make littering an even greater social taboo, and give the law greater clout in dealing with offenders.
The three cornerstones of this strategy will also help us combat the rise in fly-tipping. Those hit hardest by these irresponsible acts are the people who do so much to care for our environment, and our farmers and rural businesses deserve much better. We’re instructing councils to scrap tip charges, which only encourage illegal dumping, and we’ll be recommending convicted fly-tippers are made to pick up the waste they’ve dumped.
We want to send a message to all litter-droppers that their behaviour won’t be tolerated, and they are the only people responsible for the mess they create.
We pride ourselves on our historic environment, and want to preserve it for the future. Changing the entrenched behaviours and attitudes of litter louts won’t happen overnight, but our strategy is a great place to start.
It gives us fresh impetus to keep the nation clean, and to make our beautiful country even more attractive to visitors and residents alike.