Rivers: Fly-tipping and Litter

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th February 2021.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to remove litter and flytipping from the river network.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Litter Strategy for England was published in April 2017, setting out the Government’s aim to clean up the country, including our precious waterways, and deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation.

The Government is committed to encouraging local solutions for local problems, and this is particularly relevant in dealing with litter and fly-tipping. Our role is to enable and support this local action by providing a clear legal framework of rights and responsibilities, setting national standards and, where possible, making sure that the costs of dealing with these issues are passed to those responsible.

Navigation authorities in England and Wales are responsible for ensuring the canals and rivers that they own and manage are properly maintained and navigable. Local authorities are responsible for clearing fly-tipping from public land, and navigation authorities work closely with them to remove fly-tipping that occurs on waterside land. Councils also have legal powers to take enforcement action. They can prosecute anyone caught fly-tipping or littering or, alternatively, issue a fixed penalty notice.

Navigation authorities may also take steps to remove litter from their waterways as part of routine maintenance with the assistance of their volunteers, as well as in some cases running awareness-raising publicity campaigns. An example of this is the recently re-launched Canal and River Trust ‘Plastics Challenge’ campaign, which encourages all users of their waterways to pick up a piece of plastic litter and take it home with them to dispose of properly.

It is encouraging to see that there are a growing number of public-spirited individuals and community groups tackling litter all over the country. We have been proud to support and endorse national clean-up days such as the Great British Spring Clean, and the Great British Beach Clean, and we will continue to use our influence to encourage as many people and businesses as possible to participate in these types of events, whilst following Government guidance on staying safe outside the home.

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