UK Politics

Car owners to face fines for passenger littering

Discarded cigarette butts on road Image copyright Press Association

Drivers who allow litter to be thrown from their cars will face fines under new rules, even if the culprit is a passenger, the government has said.

The maximum on-the-spot fine for dropping litter will also rise to £150 from April next year.

The current maximum fine for littering is £80.

Clearing up litter costs the taxpayer almost £800m a year, the government said.

The minimum fine will increase to £65 from £50, while the default fine will increase to £100 from £75.

The government's first ever Litter Strategy, published in April, said councils found it difficult to identify the offender when litter was dropped from a vehicle.

Under the new rules, councils will need to prove only that litter has been thrown from a vehicle to fine the owner.

'Blights communities'

Announcing the new fines, Environment Minister Therese 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 changes follow a public consultation in which more than 85% of respondents were in favour of increasing fixed penalties for littering.

'No excuse'

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association (LGA) environment spokesman, said the measures would "send a strong message to those who think their laziness is more important than the environment in which they live".

He said the LGA had long supported "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".

Edmund King, president of motoring organisation the AA, said: "There is absolutely no excuse for car litter louts. Their selfish actions spoil the landscape and put road workers lives at risk when they have to clear up the mess.

"It is not difficult for car occupants to bag their litter and bin it in the right place."

Legislation will be introduced by the end of this year and the new fines will be in place by April next year, subject to parliamentary approval.

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