Maximum litter fines to double as Defra announces new powers

The maximum on-the-spot fines for dropping litter will almost double from April – from the current limit of £80 to £150, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has announced.

The move is aimed at tackling litter and fly-tipping on our streets and roads, which costs the taxpayer almost £800m a year.

In future, councils will also be able to impose these fines on the owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown, even if it was discarded by someone else.

The government says these fines should not be abused simply as a means of raising money, so guidance on how fines should be applied will be issued to councils. Councils should take into account local circumstances, like local ability to pay, when setting the level for these fines.

The guidance will be issued around the turn of the year to ensure the new powers are used in a “fair and proportionate way” by local authorities.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Littering blights our communities, spoils our countryside and taxpayers’ money is wasted cleaning it up.

“Throwing rubbish from a vehicle is just as unacceptable as dropping it in the street and we will tackle this antisocial behaviour by hitting litter louts in the pocket.

“These new fines will make sure the perpetrators, not the local community, bear the cost of keeping our streets and roads clean.”

The announcement means that:

  • From April next year, the maximum on-the-spot fine local authorities can issue for dropping litter will nearly double, from £80 to £150. The minimum fine will increase from £50 to £65, while the default fine will increase from £75 to £100.
  • For the first time, local authorities will also be able to apply these penalties for littering to vehicle owners if it can be proved litter was thrown from their car – even if it was discarded by somebody else.

The changes to fines for littering follow a public consultation as part of the launch of England’s first ever Litter Strategy in April 2017. These new findings showed the vast majority of respondents were in favour of increasing on-the-spot fines.

More than 85% were in favour of increasing fixed penalties for littering, while local authorities agreed that new penalties to tackle littering from cars would help to improve environmental quality in their area.

The government is today confirming that it will proceed with these measures, with legislation introduced by the end of this year and the new fines in place by April next year, subject to parliamentary approval.

Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Environment spokesman said; “The LGA has long called for councils to have greater powers to tackle litter, which is a blight on the communities we serve, and these measures are a hugely positive step in the right direction.

“Councils being able to issue increased fines to litter louts, who show no consideration for the community they live in, will send a strong message to those who think their laziness is more important than the environment in which they live.

“Allowing councils to fine the owners of vehicles which litter is thrown from, rather than expecting councils to prove who exactly in the vehicle had thrown litter, is also something that the LGA has long called for. It is great that from April, councils will be able to get tough with the anti-social minority who think our roads are a repository for rubbish.

“We now need to see more detail in the forthcoming government guidance. Whilst recognising that any action must be proportionate, it must also be robust to deter abuse of the local environment. It is frequently the more deprived communities that suffer most from litter louting and where the demand for more enforcement is loudly heard.

“Local authorities are keen to get on with the job of tackling anti-social litter louts, and delivering local environments that our residents can be proud of.”