The Scottish Government published the "National Litter and Flytipping Strategy: Consultation Analysis Report" on 28 July 2022. The report gathered the responses of 978 stakeholders engaged in a consultation on the proposed new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy.
In Scotland, littering and flytipping are governed by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended). The legislation prohibits the throwing down or dropping of an item in any public open space, and the dumping of waste onto land that has no licence to accept it. Yet, even with the potential for heavy fines and custodial sentences, both littering and flytipping remain complex and deep-rooted issues for rural communities across Scotland. The Scottish Government is aiming to tackle these issues with a new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy in late 2022.
Scottish Government Consultation
In light of the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government held the Scottish Litter Summit in March 2021 to engage stakeholders in a discussion of litter and flytipping. In the subsequent public consultation held between 13 December 2021 to 31 March 2022, the Scottish Government gathered views on the aims, objectives and actions of the proposed National Litter and Flytipping Strategy. It was agreed with stakeholders that the strategy would recognise littering and flytipping as separate issues and focus action across three strategic themes of (1) behaviour change; (2) services and infrastructure; and (3) enforcement.
Scottish Government Analysis Report
The independent analysis report of the responses to the consultation was published on 28 July 2022 ("the Report").
1. Behaviour Change
The highest level of support across the consultation was for the development and adoption of a national anti-littering campaign. The majority of respondents supported the portrayal of the behaviour as anti-social and unacceptable, with the education of school children from an early age highlighted as priority.
The widespread view amongst stakeholders was that anything that could be done to prevent flytipping was a good thing. Unfortunately, many believed flytipping was worsening across Scotland. Motivations for littering and flytipping were seen to include laziness and a perceived lack of enforcement. Many commentators therefore supported creating further deterrents to change behaviour, such as increasing monetary fines. More accessible and affordable waste disposal services, as well as an increase in the emptying of public bins, were also supported.
2. Service and Infrastructure
The Report highlighted a good appetite amongst stakeholders for the development of a central database to gather and record data to identify littering and flytipping trends. The idea was supported alongside community focused litter education programmes for promoting awareness of the effect littering and flytipping has on wildlife, environment and health and safety.
The local authority response to bin and refuse sites across Scotland was, however, highlighted as inadequate. The opening times and prices of disposal facilities were noted as a deterrent to people disposing of their waste responsibly and the main perceived barrier to reporting flytipping was found to be the fact that landowners have to pay to clear waste. There was also a perception that local councils are unwilling to act, and there was high support for not making landowners responsible, and for not charging them, for the removal of waste on their land.
The Report found that a high number of respondents agreed that the current sanctions and monetary fines were poorly implemented and inadequate. Alternative penalties, such as litter picks and community work, for both flytipping and littering were supported. A minority advocated for stricter sanctions, such as including points to a person's driving record for flytipping.
Across the board, however, there was widespread support for the reduction of waste disposal fees at waste and recycling centres. There were many calls for waste disposal to be made free and for centres to have longer opening hours to increase accessibility.
National Litter and Flytipping Strategy
The National Litter and Flytipping Strategy is due to be issued in late 2022 and will have a six-year lifespan.
It remains to be seen what specific actions the Scottish Government will commit to going forward. Whilst the Report has indicated clear support amongst stakeholders for a variety of actions proposed by the strategy, a recurring theme across the consultation was the high cost and lack of accessibility currently associated with waste disposal across local councils. Prevention is seen to be the key to addressing the issues long-term, but resourcing and funding constraints will ultimately underlie any firm commitments made.