Cleaning litter from Welsh streets costing £3.5 million

A new Keep Wales Tidy survey has revealed that collecting and disposing of litter discarded on Welsh roads is costing £3.5 million a year.

The paper, Tackling Litter on our Roads, included responses from all 22 local authorities, with 90 per cent of respondents saying that plastic drinks bottles were a major problem and 85 per cent citing fast food packaging.

Many of those surveyed suggested that legislation should be changed to ensure littering from vehicles is on a par with other driving offences which places the burden of proof on the driver. This has recently been introduced through the ASBCP Act (2014) in England but does not extend to Wales.

The £3.5 million figure does not include the cost of road closures and congestion that result from clean-ups.

Keep Wales Tidy highlighted the experiences of Colin Smith, operational manager at Vale of Glamorgan Council, who explained the impact of roadside litter on his local authority.

He said: “Littering is a crime and people who discard litter from cars at the roadside should be aware that is expensive and hazardous to collect it and it is an unnecessary cost to the taxpayer that could be better spent on other services. Car litter unfortunately has become one of our biggest problems and 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.

“Our message is simple, take your litter home and dispose of it responsibly through your normal household waste collection service or face the possibility of a £75 fixed penalty notice.”

Jemma Bere, policy manager for Keep Wales Tidy, said: “Litter is a blight on our streets and communities and costs us dearly, whether environmentally, economically or socially, the impacts are far-reaching. 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. We are currently exploring options with Welsh government and local authorities, and will be trialling some solutions in the near future.”