Help keep Cornwall free from roadside litter

Did you know you can be fined £80 if you or your passenger throw rubbish from your car window or dump it in a layby?

Every year Highways England and local councils spend hundreds of millions of pounds clearing drinks bottles and cans, food and fast food packaging, takeaway cups, plastic and paper bags and cigarette related litter from roadsides and verges.

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However not only is roadside litter an eyesore, picking it up, especially on high speed roads such as the A30, A38 and A39, means that the workforce are exposed to unnecessary and avoidable danger. It can also be a danger to other road users and to wildlife.

Research shows that people are most likely to litter when walking or travelling in a vehicle. It seems that when in a vehicle people feel less accountable and identifiable. We are very proud of Cornwall’s beautiful environment and are committed to reducing the amount of litter which can deter economic activity and investment.

Sue James, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, said “Cornwall is one of the most beautiful areas of the country with outstanding scenery, historic towns and wonderful beaches. What a shame a minority of people spoil it with litter that could so easily be taken home or put in bins. It’s especially disappointing to see litter thrown from vehicles.

“Removing unsightly litter from road sides and verges costs money which could have been spent on other Council services.

“Recently we have removed a lot of vegetation on the verges next to some of our roads so the problem has become more visible for residents and road users. We have a regular programme of litter picking on both the trunk roads managed by Highways England, and the roads we are responsible for. We also liaise with CORMAC on any planned roadworks so teams can litter pick at the same time. This reduces the cost to the Council and also the inconvenience to road users.

“However the reality is that this problem would almost disappear overnight if the litterbugs acted more responsibly so we are calling on people to reflect on their actions and do the right thing and take their litter home with them rather than disposing it on the roads”.

Dropping litter is a criminal offence under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. While our preference is to work with people, authorised officers can currently issue fixed penalty notices of £80 for littering offences. This amount is due to increase to £150 later this year. Failure to pay may result in a prosecution before a Magistrates Court where the maximum fine is currently £2,500. Changes to the law last year means that we can apply these litter penalties to vehicle owners if it can be proved the rubbish was thrown from their car, van or lorry, even if was discarded by a passenger.

Wherever possible we investigate reported offences with a view to taking action against offenders to reduce the level of environmental crime. Ultimately we rely on people reporting issues that they witness in their community for us to be able to take action.

“It’s up to all of us to play a more active role in catching offenders” said Sue James. “It is only when those that litter believe they will get caught that this anti-social behaviour will reduce” .

Anyone who sees someone throwing litter from a vehicle or dumping it in a layby in Cornwall can report it to the Council at
envhealthandlicensing@cornwall.gov.uk

Individuals and businesses can also help to do their bit by taking part in Keep Britain Tidy Campaign’s Great British Spring Clean which runs from 2 – 4 March 2018  www.keepbritaintidy.org/our-cause/cut-litter or supporting Clean Cornwall who stage regular litter picks across Cornwall.

Story 23 February 2018