Conservative Peer Lord Marlesford will today have the second reading of a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Lords. If passed into law, it would close the loophole that allows people who litter from cars to dodge penalties.
In 2011 nine million drivers (18 percent) threw litter from their cars. The cost of clearing up this roadside litter contributes to a bill for English councils which reached £863 million in 2010-11, not to mention additional spending to clear litter along motorways and trunk roads. .
Under existing law it is a criminal offence to throw litter from a vehicle. While councils have the power to charge people who throw litter from a car up to £80, they find it very difficult to use it in practice: it is often impossible to prove who within the car was responsible for throwing the litter.
In June 2012, a new law came into force which allows councils in Greater London to issue a civil penalty for littering to the registered owner of the vehicle. This system of decriminalised enforcement has been used successfully for many years in relation to parking infringements and fly-tipping. Lord Marlesford’s Bill would extend this to cover littering from vehicles anywhere in England. This would mean communities outside London could have cleaner roadsides too.
Samantha Harding, CPRE Stop the Drop Campaign Manager, says: 'For over six years local councils have asked the Government to give them a law that works. It’s ridiculous that we have unusable legislation and the Government has done nothing about it. Litter on our roadsides is dangerous, unsightly and costly – it’s time for action not apathy.'
Lord Marlesford says: 'Nothing degrades a road more than litter. The roads in England are some of the dirtiest in Europe. And it can so easily be dealt with.
'I want action not words, so I am asking Parliament to do two things. First to deter people from littering from vehicles by making the vehicle owner pay a fixed penalty of £70, whoever has thrown the litter out of it.
'Second to require local authorities, which spend over £800 million clearing up litter, to report each year to the public, whose money it is, how much they have spent on litter clearing contracts, with the names of the contractors and the roads for which they are responsible and to certify that they are satisfied that the job has been done. That will enable people to complain about dirty roads direct to local authorities or to contractors.'
Notes to Editors
 Highways Agency annual report, p.30 - £10 million to clear litter