The consultation on our proposals for a new national litter and fly-tipping strategy closed on 31 March, and we are currently analysing the responses. The final strategy will be published later this year and will take those responses into account.
Proposals in the consultation included measures to strengthen enforcement, raising of fixed penalties, improving data collection and supporting private landowners and local authorities. Illegal waste activities, which are a blight on communities, have no place in Scotland, and we are working with partners and law enforcement to detect, deter and disrupt waste crimes across Scotland.
Fly-tipping and littering cause great frustration to the whole community. Midlothian Council states that fly-tipping alone costs it £60,000 a year, which is a huge amount of resource to spend on preventable behaviour.
What further support can the Scottish Government give to help local authorities, the police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and even private landowners to tackle fly-tipping and ensure that appropriate action is taken to prosecute people who fly-tip?
I fully appreciate the challenges that are faced by private landowners and local authorities, and the impact that the pandemic has had on reporting littering and fly-tipping rates. Although the ultimate responsibility for clearing up litter and materials that have been fly-tipped rests with local authorities and landowners, we are working across multiple agencies to tackle the issue, with a firm focus on prevention.
Our national litter and fly-tipping strategy consultation proposed a range of further measures to enforce litter and fly-tipping offences, including raising fixed penalties and exploring use of civil penalties, which we will pursue, subject to the outcome of the consultation.
The minister will know that I recently completed a consultation on potential legislative changes around fly-tipping, and I look forward to meeting her ministerial colleague next week to discuss them.
One issue that came out clearly from that consultation is public concern that restricted access to council recycling centres is potentially a factor that encourages people to fly-tip irresponsibly. Fife Council has just announced that it is reducing its charges for bulky uplifts of waste in order to make that an easier route for people. Will the Scottish Government look at how it can better support councils to provide better and cheaper facilities for people who want to do the right thing?
The Scottish Government shares Murdo Fraser’s ambition to tackle fly-tipping, and our recent consultation set out proposals in areas that I know Mr Fraser has identified for further action, including improving data quality and strengthening enforcement measures, which I mentioned previously. However, there are some differences from the approach of the proposed bill and—as he mentioned—he will meet my colleague Lorna Slater next week.
Understandably, over the course of the pandemic local authorities had issues with providing access to recycling centres. Access is very important, and consideration of all such issues was borne in mind as we developed the consultation, the responses to which we are now reviewing.
On Monday, the Scottish Government launched two consultations on a proposed circular economy bill and on a waste route map. Together, the consultations set out the key proposed actions and the tools that we will put in place to help everyone to play their part in cutting waste in our economy and in capitalising on the economic opportunities that a circular economy clearly presents.
The route map includes a proposal to embed decisions about recycling in the design and sale of products. My colleague Lorna Slater recently announced the first investments from our landmark £70 million recycling improvement fund. More than £20 million is being awarded to 13 local authorities to increase the quantity and quality of recycling. That marks the beginning of one of the biggest investments in recycling infrastructure.