Litter can have a serious impact on quality of life, it creates an eyesore which damages our local environment, and it can be a real hazard for wildlife. Theresa Villiers has been taking action on litter and has posted this update on her campaign to make Barnet a cleaner place...
"I hate litter and I know many of my constituents in Barnet hate it as well. I cannot understand why so many people drop litter and create problems for other people to clear up. I have been campaigning for some years for action to tackle litter.
I know that the Government wants to bring about real improvements in the cleanliness of our country and a cultural shift to make littering far more socially unacceptable. The maximum fixed penalty for dropping litter has been almost doubled from the current limit of £80 to £150, and councils have been given new powers to impose civil penalties on the keepers of vehicles from which litter is thrown, even if it was discarded by someone else.
When I was Environment Secretary, I introduced a ground-breaking new Environment Bill to Parliament. This contains a host of measures to cut down on waste and ensure it is properly disposed of. That includes:
- A more consistent approach to kerbside recycling so people find it easier and simpler to recycle.
- A drinks container deposit return scheme which, in other countries, has dramatically reduced the number of bottles and cans which end up as litter.
- New charges to minimise the use and impacts of single-use plastics. We will be making businesses which produce plastic packaging pay for the cost of disposal. This is intended to provide an incentive to cut down on the amount of packaging used and also to encourage a switch to the use of recyclable materials. It will provide an income stream which I hope will be devoted to improving waste services.
- Powers to ban certain types of single use plastics such as plastic stemmed cotton buds (building on the success of carrier bag charge which has seen use of bags at major supermarket plummet by 90%).
- Making more stringent enforcement measures available to councils on litter and flytipping.
During my time as Secretary of State, I met food retailers to urge them to take responsibility for the food and drink packaging which is littered. I also gave official Government backing to the Great British Spring Clean. Around half a million people got involved in this Keep Britain Tidy volunteer litter pick last year and I spoke at the formal parliamentary launch of the 2020 campaign.
My concern about litter predates my tenure as the member of the Cabinet with responsibility for it. I have taken part in many litter-picks in my constituency and plan to get involved in the Great British Spring Clean again this year. It runs from 20th March to the 13th April. I will be encouraging residents, schools and local groups to join me in collecting litter.
Back in 2018, I tabled a debate in Parliament on litter and fly tipping. I used this debate as an opportunity to challenge Ministers regarding progress on their National Litter Strategy, which aims to apply best practice in education, enforcement and infrastructure to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and associated behaviour. I also met Highways England to push them to do more to keep our roadsides free of litter.
I find that litter and fly tipping is an issue which often comes up at community group meetings which I attend, for example at the Chipping Barnet Town Team, made up of local residents’ groups.
I am in regular touch with Barnet Council taking up concerns about litter, urging them to improve street cleaning. I frequently report examples of problem litter to the council to ask them to clear it up (including doing that about litter in Barnet High Street just a few days ago). I helped persuade the council to provide an addition of £500,000 to the street cleaning budget last year."