A new camera scheme is said to catch motorists in the act, throwing trash out of their windows and fining them heavily.
Starting April, the Maidstone Borough Council in Kent will be using LitterCam to find and punish drivers who break the rules of the country’s first pilot.
Under current guidelines, fines start at £ 90 and rise to £ 120 if not paid after 15 days. The maximum fine on site in England is £ 150.
Kent’s Maidstone Borough Council will use LitterCam to track down and punish drivers who dispose of litter such as cigarette butts and apple pits
While the local council previously relied on guards to fines those who witnessed garbage, footage and photographic evidence of the license plate is now being presented to the council as part of the LitterCam program.
After this is verified, the evidence is sent to the Driver and Vehicle Registration Authority which will give the council the details of the registered owner and a penalty will then be sent through the mail.
Anyone who wishes to see the evidence can review the footage through the LitterCam portal.
According to Highways England, around 200,000 garbage bags are removed from England’s streets each year containing everything from coffee cups and leftovers from fast food meals to diapers, cigarette butts and even apple pits.
LitterCam technology can present footage and photographic evidence of the license plate to the council, helping to catch more drivers who break the waste rules
This includes main and secondary roads as well as highways where access roads are filled with larger, discarded debris such as building materials that have slipped from poorly secured goods onto trucks.
The reality, however, is that very few offenders are caught and fined.
Last year the Maidstone Borough Council fined 200 fines, but Derek Mortimer, chair of the Community, Housing and Environment Committee, hopes the new system will push this forward by the thousands with a zero-tolerance policy.
LitterCam will come in handy on highways where criminals are rarely caught in the act
Speaking to the Sunday Times, he said, “It takes years for a cigarette butt to deteriorate, so we’re saving the planet one step at a time.”
Other councils are in talks on the use of Litter Cam, including Wigan in Lancashire and Sheffield, and Transport Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland.
Allison Ogden-Newton, general manager of Keep Britain Tiday, said the use of surveillance cameras is the way forward to limit the amount of rubbish on the streets and described the environmental impact as “desecration”.
A recent study found that up to 3.2 million voles, shrews and mice die each year after crawling into discarded bottles and cans that they cannot escape.
Moderator Jeremy Paxman, who is also the patron of Clean Up Britain, said people should be more careful before thoughtlessly throwing their trash away.
“I think people remember that they want to keep the inside of their vehicle clean and so they want to throw away the trash without realizing that they are making it a problem for everyone,” he said.
Every year around 200,000 trash bags containing everything from coffee cups and fast food meals to diapers, cigarette butts and apple pits are removed from the streets of England
Following the Great British September Clean, a Keep Britain Tidy initiative to clear trash from the streets, Freda Rashdi of Highways England said, “The simple fact is that if trash weren’t dropped at all, it wouldn’t have to be picked up .
“Trash is not only unsightly and a risk to wildlife and the environment, it also puts our people at risk when it comes to collecting it, and derives time and money that could better be used to improve the network.”