For many people litter is the most important issue of the local environmental quality agenda, as it is the most widespread blight of our public spaces. It is costing councils half a billion pounds annually to clear it up.
It is a criminal offence to leave litter under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. A person is guilty of the offence if they throw down, drop or otherwise deposit, and then leave, any litter in a place to which the section applies, namely all land that is open to the air, including private land and land covered by water. The only defences are that the act was authorised by law, or done with the consent of the owner or occupier of the land.
The Act provides no definition of litter, although the courts have interpreted it to be wide and encompassing. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, has removed any previous ambiguity by explicitly stating that litter includes smoking and chewing gum related material. In reality, the most common forms of litter relate to smoking, eating and drinking.
What we don't do
The Council does not:
- clear litter from privately owned land
- clear litter or investigate complaints on any area outside the borough
Privately owned land
Where land is privately owned, the Planning Enforcement Section can investigate enquiries about an untidy condition of the land and where its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area.
If negotiations fails, the Council can take formal by using its general planning powers to serve a Section 215 Notice on the owner (or occupier) of any land or building whose condition is adversely affecting the amenity of the area, particularly within a conservation area. Such a notice requires the person responsible to clean up the site or building, or the local authority can carry out the work itself and reclaim the cost from the owner. Section 215 is a relatively straightforward power that can deliver important, substantial and lasting improvements to amenity. Please see our Planning pages for details of how to contact us.
Fines for dropping litter
If you drop litter you can face a fine of up to £75.00.
The Council is authorised to issue ‘on the spot fines’ of £75.00 to anyone who is witnessed dropping litter.
Dropping litter is an offence under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection, under Section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Offenders who have been issued with a fine have 14 days to pay the fine. If an offender pays the fine within 10 days they can pay a lesser amount of £50.00.
The Council can take a prosecution through the Magistrates court for this offence whereby on conviction the maximum fine is £2,500.
The fixed penalty notice does allow an offender the opportunity to avoid court proceedings if they pay the fine within 14 days.
Where a fine has been issued to a young person between the ages of 16-18 years of age they do have the opportunity to pay a lesser amount of £50.00. This is because of their ability to pay and lack of income.
To avoid a fine make sure you dispose of your litter correctly “bin it”.
Report a damaged or vandalised litter bin
Please use our online Street Maintenance Form
Report a problem, request a new bin or report a full bin
Please use our online Street Cleansing Report Form
Standards and Response Times
If you report a problem relating to litter scattered on a public highway or over a public open space under our control, we have a certain amount of time to bring it back to a reasonable condition, depending on where the problem is. Response times are detailed in the Environmental Protection Act 1990.