Councils want power to fine car owners over litter

Cigarette butts Image copyright PA
Image caption Clearing up rubbish such as cigarette butts is dangerous and costly, the Local Government Association says

Councils in England and Wales are calling for new powers to tackle the "huge and spiralling" problem of people throwing litter from vehicles.

They want the same power as London, where vehicle owners can be fined if someone drops litter from their car.

Councils say they cannot currently tackle the problem effectively as they have to identify who threw the rubbish.

The Environment Department (Defra) said the government was considering the best way to support councils.

'Litter louts'

Clearing up plastic bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers and other rubbish thrown from vehicles is difficult, dangerous and expensive, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Some 80 tonnes of litter from cars was lifted in an annual clear-up on 18 miles of A-roads in north Hertfordshire, it said.

Council workers recovered 20 tonnes of rubbish along a 16-mile stretch of the A42 in Leicestershire, the body added.

Almost a quarter of motorists (23%) admit to having thrown litter out of the car, its research suggests.

LGA environment spokesman Peter Box said: "The litter louts who blight our roads and cost council taxpayers millions in clean-up costs are currently getting away scot-free thanks to a legal loophole."

'Health risk'

He added: "We are calling on the government to urgently give councils the appropriate powers to tackle this issue head-on."

A Defra spokeswoman said: "Litter blights communities and poses a risk to human health which is why tackling this issue remains a priority for government.

"We want everyone to enjoy a cleaner, healthier country and we will build on our recent successes increasing powers to seize vehicles suspected of use in fly-tipping.

"This way we can clamp down on those few people who spoil our local areas with litter."

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