A new move has been made by the government which is going to enforce a fine on drivers if any rubbish is thrown out of the windows of their cars. This fine is not going to just apply to the driver of the vehicle, but it is also going to make them responsible for any rubbish that the passenger throws out of the window. Fines are going to be set at around £100 and will apply even if the driver is not in the vehicle at the time.
The government has said that the matter is likely to remain the responsibility of local authorities to enforce, and it is expected that much of the enforcement will be done through CCTV. The Environment Sercretary, Caroline Spelman, has stated that this law will come into effect in London this month and will see officers start fining people for littering.
The government have said that they want to see the scheme rolled out across the rest of the country in the near future. Littering is currently a criminal offence and if a person is taken to a magistrates court they can face fines of up to £2500 for it. It is also possible for police officers to enforce anti-littering by handing out penalty notices of £80 to anyone seen dropping rubbish in public.
Unfortunately, tackling littering in cars is more challenging and the Highways Agency have estimated that enough rubbish is thrown onto the roads in the UK to fill nearly 750,000 bin bags every single year.
Mrs Spelman stated, “It can be very challenging to catch people who are littering from their cars and this provides an extra challenge for enforcement officers. Therefore, we are going to be monitoring how the scheme takes off in London very carefully before we consider rolling it out to the rest of the UK.”
Littering is a significant problem in the UK and it is something that governments have been trying to tackle for a very long time. One of the first initiatives was under Margaret Thatcher who appointed Richard Branson as the country’s litter tsar. The changes that are proposed by the government have been welcomed by various environmental groups from across the country.
David Parsons is the chairman of the Government Association Environment Board and he has stated, “People who are littering from their cars are damaging the countryside and unfortunately they are usually getting away with this offence because of legal loopholes. This is unacceptable and the taxpayer is having to meet cleanup costs of millions of pounds because of litterers antisocial behaviour.”
The AA have also released a statement in support of the scheme, “The vast majority of our members believe that litter on the UK rates is a significant problem and we are very supportive of the scheme that is going to cut down this amount of litter. However, we want the law to punish whoever is driving the car, not whoever owns the vehicle. Members also think that as well as fines, points should be put on licenses for people who litter from their vehicles.”
A spokesperson from the Campaign to Protect Rural England has commented, “We think it is a good idea that the driver of the vehicle is responsible for making sure that the passengers do not litter.
However, we think that points on their licence would be a punishment that is too severe. The government should see how the fine system works out before they consider introducing any more serious punishments.” Around one in every four motorists have admitted to dropping litter out of the car windows at some point.