Reducing litter: Penalties for environmental offences

Closed 18 Jun 2017

Opened 10 Apr 2017

Overview

This consultation seeks your views on proposals by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to:

  1. Increase the levels for section 88 fixed penalties in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for littering and other environmental offences;
  2. Change the provision for how councils can use the income from fixed penalties for environmental offences; and 
  3. Remove the requirement for the parish council enforcement officers to attend a specified training course.

In connection with (i) above, we are also seeking your views on potential amendments to the default penalties for littering and related offences, are which are set out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

We propose to make any changes on these points by amending the Regulations. Draft regulations for consideration can be found in 'relevant documents' below.

This consultation also seeks your views on introducing new regulations to enable councils to issue fixed penalties (civil fines) to the keeper of a vehicle from which litter is thrown, where the litterer cannot be identified. Draft regulations can be found in 'related documents' below.  

Throughout this consultation, to more easily distinguish between the two types of fixed penalties we will refer to:

  • penalties issued in lieu of prosecution under section 88 in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as ‘fixed penalties
  • fixed penalties issued to the keeper of a vehicle from which litter is thrown (which would be issued under the proposed new regulations made under section 88A in the Environmental Protection Act 1990)  as ‘civil penalties’. These will not be issued in lieu of a criminal prosecution.

 The draft regulations use the term ‘fixed penalty’ for both types of penalty.

 

 

Why We Are Consulting

Littering, and associated environmental offences like dog fouling, blight our communities and impose avoidable costs on the public purse, drawing money away from priorities such as social care and education. We committed in our election manifesto to “review the case for increasing the fines for littering” to help tackle this type of anti-social behaviour.[1] The levels for fixed penalties under section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 have not changed since 2006, but adjusting for inflation since that time means that a maximum penalty of £80 in 2006 would now be £100.[2]

The Environmental Offences (Use of Fixed Penalty Receipts) Regulations 2007 and the Environmental Offences (Fixed Penalties) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2007 (“the Regulations”) both relate to the levels for fixed penalty notices that can be issued for various environmental offences, and to how income from fixed penalty notices can be used by the local authorities/parish councils that issue them. They also provide for training requirements for enforcement officers authorised by parish councils.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014  replaced some anti-litter enforcement powers covered by the Regulations with new improved enforcement powers, and we need to update the Regulations to reflect this.

The Regulations also allowed “high performing” councils (as classified by the Audit Commission under the Local Government Act 2003) greater flexibility in how they use the income from fixed penalty notices for environmental offences than councils not classified as “high performing”. However, performance classification was abolished in 2010 and the Audit Commission itself was abolished in March 2015, so a new approach is needed to reflect the new enforcement landscape and provide clarity to councils.

We recognise that, when litter is thrown from a vehicle, it can be hard to identify the offender. London borough councils are currently able to issue a penalty charge notice to the keeper of a vehicle from which litter is thrown, even if they cannot establish the identity of the person who threw the litter. Section 154 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014  enables the Government to make regulations which would extend similar powers to other local authorities. Introducing these regulations will improve the suite of enforcement powers available to councils to tackle littering offences.



[1] page 45

[2] 2006 prices uplifted to 2016 levels using Consumer Price Index (CPI).  

 

Audiences

  • Charities/Voluntary Organisations
  • Environmental campaigners
  • National Park Authorities
  • Local Authorities
  • Waste Producers and Handlers
  • Transport Organisations
  • Local Authorities
  • Waste Management Companies
  • SME businesses

Interests

  • Natural environment
  • Waste and recycling
  • Local environments
  • National Parks
  • Towns and village greens