Annual £3.5m cost of cleaning litter from Welsh streets

Litter Image copyright Pacemaker

Collecting and disposing of litter discarded on Welsh roads is costing £3.5m a year, a Keep Wales Tidy survey has found.

The research involved trunk road agencies and all 22 local authorities.

Of those surveyed, 90% said plastic drinks bottles were a major problem and 85% cited fast food packaging.

Many suggested littering from vehicles should be on a par with other driving offences. Keep Wales Tidy and the Welsh Government are "exploring options".

While the survey put the cost of collecting and disposing of litter at £3.5m each year, the figure does not include the cost of road closures and congestion that result from clean-ups.

Vale of Glamorgan council's operational manager Colin Smith said littering was a crime and people who discard it from cars should be aware how "expensive and hazardous" it is to collect.

"Car litter unfortunately has become one of our biggest problems," he said.

"The council will be targeting this offence to prevent the visual impact litter is having on our environment and the detrimental effect it has on wildlife."

The local authority punishes people who litter with £75 fixed penalty notices.

Keep Wales Tidy's report looked at how the issue is tackled around the world and gave a number of recommendations including working more with businesses and driving associations, running "adopt a road" schemes and targeted anti-litter campaigns.

In England, the law has recently been changed to ensure littering from vehicles is on a par with other driving offences.

While people surveyed suggested similar legislation should be brought in in Wales, Keep Wales Tidy said it was working with the Welsh Government and councils, and will be "trialling some solutions" soon.

The environmental charity's policy manager Jemma Bere said: "All litter is an avoidable problem and education, enforcement, engagement and policy and legislation all have a part to play.

"However, roadside litter is more complex in nature and campaigns require careful thought and targeting."

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