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Fly tipping is primarily a matter for local authorities, but it is illegal and unnecessary. Valuable resources that could be recycled go to waste, and it creates an expensive problem, often with the costs being met from the public purse. We have provided the revised code of practice on litter and refuse, given local authorities and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency powers to fine people from £200 up to a maximum of £40,000 if they are prosecuted, and consulted on new powers to seize vehicles that are linked to waste crime in our recent consultation on circular economy legislation—new powers that could be used to tackle fly tipping.
The cabinet secretary may recall that I raised the issue with the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment in June last year and pointed out that, in England and Wales, the court can make an order requiring an individual who is convicted of fly tipping to meet the costs of the clear-up.
Given that one of the aims of the rural crime strategy is to stop organised crime benefiting financially from fly tipping, does the cabinet secretary consider that the use of court orders in Scotland to recover the costs of clearing up fly tipping would help to meet the rural crime strategy’s aim and, more important, provide financial assistance to local authorities and private landowners, who currently incur those costs?
We will always look at potential changes—I will not say “solutions”—that might help the situation. I would need to speak to colleagues with other portfolios about the idea, as the member will be aware, given her personal background. Other things are happening, and we need to remember that decisions regarding both the issue that the member raises and others tend to come on the back of successful court actions. The issue is about getting cases of fly tipping into court, which is a matter between the relevant local authorities and the Crown Office. There are real issues, as there often are with such matters, but we are trying to keep across that.
The member may be aware that the Scottish partnership against rural crime published its “Rural Crime Strategy 2019-22” last year, and tackling fly tipping is one of the partnership’s seven priorities. We are trying to get on top of fly tipping, but I appreciate the enormous nuisance and concern that it causes to many communities.
As the member may realise from what I have said, we are committed to reducing littering and delivering against the national litter strategy, which covers more than just the specific issue of fly ti pping. In 2018, we published the updated code of practice on litter and refuse, and we intend to introduce a new penalty regime for littering from vehicles as part of the proposed circular economy bill. That was an ask that came from a number of different places. Those are commitments that we made in the national litter strategy, which also contains the commitment to conduct a review in 2020. We are considering how best we can take that review forward this year.