The Scottish Government published the new "National Litter and Flytipping Strategy" on 28 June 2023 (the "Strategy"). The Strategy introduces a refreshed approach to how flytipping and litter are to be tackled in Scotland over the next six years.
The intention is for the Strategy to serve as a guideline for collaboration between national and local governments, businesses, communities and individuals in an effort to further sustained and coordinated action.
The publication of the Strategy follows on the response to the Scottish Government's consultation with key partners and stakeholders and has been developed in collaboration with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland to address the problems of Scotland's "throwaway culture".
The Strategy declares that £60million of public money is spent annually on cleaning up flytipping and litter in Scotland. To combat this, the Strategy is committed to treating flytipping and littering as separate issues to protect the natural environment and ensure cleaner and safer communities.
Flytipping and litter are to be addressed across three strategic themes of behaviour change, infrastructure and services, and enforcement. The intention is for the Strategy to use these themes in a systems-based approach to take the whole life cycle of flytipped and littered items into consideration.
Specific actions and interventions may fall within more than one of the strategic themes and annual action plans have been introduced to set out how these will be delivered. The actions plans will be renewed and refreshed on an annual basis.
2023-2024 Action Plan
The 2023-2024 Action Plan ("the Action Plan") details the specific actions that will be progressed within the Strategy's first year. It has been published in conjunction with the Strategy and prioritises actions that reflect the available resources. These actions are also intended to be "enabling" actions to lay the groundwork for the future, and include the following:
- the imposition of a civil penalty on the registered keeper of a vehicle from which a littering offence is committed.
- the development and promotion of a national online litter hub to provide support, advice and information to local organisations.
- a new fixed penalty regime to allow local authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices in relation to disposals of household waste that go against a householder's duty of care;
- the increase of the current value of Fixed Penalty Notices for flytippers to £500.
Litter and flytipping actions
- the conducting of an evidence-based review of the enforcement of litter and flytipping offences to better understand, and address, the current barriers to existing enforcement actions;
- the collaboration between key stakeholders to scope out options to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and consistency of prevention-focused activity that can be trialled across Scotland.
Looking towards the future
The Strategy and Action Plan are positive steps taken by the Scottish Government in effort to address the complex problems of flytipping and litter in Scotland. The proposed change in legislation and introduction of targeted, behaviour-based interventions reinforces the Scottish Government's commitment to the promotion of the natural economy, and the protection of the countryside.
It is noted, however, that a recurring concern across consultation responses was the perceived high cost and lack of accessibility associated with waste disposal across local councils. It remains to be seen whether future action plans will take these concerns on board.