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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today launched a major new petition, in partnership with the Daily Express, urging governments across the United Kingdom to increase the maximum fixed penalty notice for littering to protect the natural environment and the public purse.

Littering has a hugely negative environmental impact, from poisoning wildlife to polluting rivers, and cleaning it up wastes an estimated £700 million of taxpayers’ money per year, according to the government’s own estimates.

Fines are an underused tool, with the level of fines for littering differing in each nation, but remaining low. In England, fixed penalty notices for littering range from £65 to a maximum of £150. This is much lower than in Calgary in Canada, where littering fines range between £150-£290, and Singapore, where littering can attract a fine of up to £2,750. Both cities are consistently ranked in the top 10 cleanest cities in the world. 

Recent Bright Blue polling identified that an overwhelming majority (76%) of the public believe fines for littering should be higher. 

Bright Blue’s new petition is calling on all UK governments to increase the maximum fixed penalty notice for littering. Any revenue from these increased fixed penalty notices should have to be ring-fenced by local authorities for spending on measures that improve the environment in their local area.

As well as the Daily Express, the petition is supported by Clean Up Britain, Sea Shepherd UK, and the RSPB.

Patrick Hall, Senior Research Fellow at Bright Blue, commented:

“Fines for littering are too low. Behavioural science tells us that higher fines for littering act as effective deterrents, as we have seen in much cleaner cities which are tougher on litterbugs, such as Calgary and Singapore. Governments across the UK should increase the maximum fixed penalty notices to allow local authorities to set much higher fines for littering.”

Stanley Johnson, International Ambassador of the Conservative Environment Network, commented:

“Our green and pleasant land is under threat from litter louts, with the public picking up the tab. Governments in the UK should take inspiration from abroad and get tough by increasing fines for this unacceptable and unnecessary behaviour.”

Jeremy Paxman, Broadcaster and Patron of Clean Up Britain, commented:

“It is unarguable that Britain has an enormous litter problem. It is getting worse.

“It’s soul-destroying. It pollutes the environment. It is dangerous to humans and animals. It depresses people because mucky surroundings make them feel worth less. It is also expensive – councils across the UK spend millions of pounds a year trying to clean it up.

“For years, chucking litter has been a crime without a punishment, because councils are so weak-kneed. There is only one sustainable and effective solution to littering: changing the behaviour of people who do it. Nothing else will work.”

To arrange an interview with a Bright Blue spokesperson or for further media enquiries, please contact Joseph Silke at joseph@brightblue.org.uk or on 07948 420 584.

[Image: John Cameron]