Local authorities are primarily responsible for clearing fly tipping and litter. Fly tipping is illegal, dangerous and unnecessary. Valuable resources that could be recycled are wasted and publicly funded organisations and landowners bear the cost of the clean-up.
To tackle the issue, we support the reporting of fly tipping, through the flymapper and dumb dumpers systems, and the wider work on prevention and sharing expertise of Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish partnership against rural crime. We have provided SEPA and local authorities with the powers to fine people who are caught fly tipping, from the minimum fixed penalty of £200 up to a maximum fine of £40,000 if the person is prosecuted.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that comprehensive response.
Fly tipping seems to be a growing problem. In Perth and Kinross, for example, the number of recorded incidents has doubled in the past four years. Under current law in the area, the owner of the land is responsible for the cost of cleaning up after fly tipping. That goes against the polluter-pays principle. Is it time to revisit the law, so that owners of land are not held liable for the irresponsible actions of other people?
I would need to see a great deal more detailed analysis of what actually happens in respect of fly tipping to be certain that changing the law would help the situation.
Fly tipping is a considerable problem, which I suspect is growing, unfortunately. At the end of the day, the responsibility lies with the individuals who are doing the fly tipping. Ideally, we would be able to identify those individuals; in the absence of that, it is indeed the landowner who is currently responsible.
The national litter strategy, “Towards a litter-free Scotland: a strategic approach to higher quality local environments”, sets out a strategic approach to preventing littering. It focuses on a range of approaches, key to which is the underpinning message about the waste of time and money that clearing litter involves, and the harm that littering does to our communities, countryside and marine environment.
We continue to look for new ways to reduce littering. Today, I announced our intention to introduce a new offence of littering from vehicles, to target the blight of roadside litter in Scotland.