Councils urged to tackle roadside litter louts

Survey reveals 29 million cigarette butts thrown from cars last year. Call for vehicle registration numbers to be used in new fines system for offenders.

A clean and lovely countryside should be a right, not a surprise.

That is the view of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which has renewed calls to make it easier to fine people for littering from cars.

It claims eyesores are becoming the “default condition” of British roadsides and says effective action to tackle the problem outside London is hampered by inadequate legislation.

Cigarette butts alone accounted for 29 million incidents of littering from cars last year.

Research shows nine million drivers (18 per cent) threw litter from their cars in 2011.

Bill Bryson, the CPRE’s president, said: “Litter is becoming the default condition of the British roadside.

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“Often these days you feel as if you are driving through a kind of large, informal linear tip.

“Surely, we are entitled to expect better? A clean and lovely countryside shouldn’t be a surprise. It should be a right.”

Ben Stafford, head of campaigns for the CPRE, said: “When people get away with littering, we all end up footing the bill. In a perfect world people would take responsibility for their own litter and we encourage everyone to do this.

“However, it is clearly not enough to ask people to do the right thing. As this research shows, some people are shockingly irresponsible in their behaviour, believing that it is acceptable to jettison litter from their vehicles because they can’t wait for a bin, or because they don’t like their cars to be cluttered.

“It’s time to toughen sanctions against drivers who allow litter to be thrown from their cars by making sure they face a fine when it happens.”

Clearing up litter currently costs councils in England �863 million a year. But this figure doesn’t include the cost of cleaning Highways Agency roads (Motorways and many A roads) and land along railways, or the cost of clearing fly-tipping on public or private land.

CPRE is campaigning for a simple amendment to the existing law which would allow councils to issue fines to the registered owner of the vehicle, who would then be responsible for paying the fine unless they nominated another person to pay it.

The legal procedure currently applies for speeding fines, seat belt offences, parking infringements and fly-tipping.

The London Local Authorities Act, which comes into force later this month, will introduce a similar change in London. CPRE wants all councils in England to have the effective powers they need to fine those who litter from vehicles.