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News

New powers to clean neighbourhoods come into force

Defra : 06 April, 2006  (Company News)
New powers for local authorities to deal with a plethora of environmental crimes came in to force today. Measures under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act cover everything from noisy burglar alarms to abandoned trolleys and the perennial problem of litter.
The vast majority of measures under the Act are now in force other measures to combat issues such as fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles were introduced last year.

Minister for Local Environment Quality, Ben Bradshaw, said local authorities now had a 'complete package' of powers to make our streets cleaner, safer and quieter:

'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act is the most significant change in local environmental quality legislation for 15 years.

'It's something that local authorities have asked, and it's therefore something they need to use.

'The powers we have given them are easier to use, more effective and more cost efficient than anything they have had before.

'And I see no reason why we won't start seeing a marked difference in the quality of our neighbourhoods within the next two or three years.'

This year, Defra will begin its most detailed ever survey of local environment quality which will be used to set new, challenging standards and target poor performers.

The Department will be closely monitoring how the Act is being delivered on the ground and working with poor performers to improve standards across the country. This will ensure that powers are being used effectively.

Powers that came in to force today, April 6, unless otherwise stated:

Litter:

- On the spot fines for littering raised to a maximum of 80
- (June 05) cigarette butts and chewing gum formally defined as litter
- (June 05) makes it an offence to drop litter anywhere, including private land, rivers, ponds and lakes
- restrictions on the distribution of flyers, pamphlets and hand-outs
- require fast food outlets, stalls and mobile food vans to clear litter from their land
- require other businesses and individuals to clear litter from their land which may be attracting more litter (eg unused garage areas and industrial plots).

Graffiti:

- on the spot fines raised to a maximum of 80
- defacement removal notices extended to ensure that street furniture is cleaned within 28 days by the owners.

Fly-posting:

- on the spot fines raised to a maximum of 80 for those caught fly-posting
- fines and clean-up charges can be issued to the beneficiary of the poster

Noise:

- local authority can enter premises to silence an alarm that has been ringing for over 20 mins (without force)
- powers to require people with burglar alarms to have alternative key-holders and tell the Council who they are, reducing the blight of false alarms

Dogs:

- dog byelaws replaced with dog control orders which enable local authorities and parish councils to deal with:

1) fouling by dogs
2) ban dogs from designated areas
3) require dogs to be kept on a lead and
4) restrict the number of dogs that can be walked by one person.

(on the spot fine available for these offences to a maxiumum of 80)

Waste (including fly-tipping):

- on the spot fines (up to 100) for those who leave domestic waste out at the wrong times
- fines for businesses (eg 'white van men') of 300 who are not registered to carry waste
- fines for businesses of 300 if they fail to produce required waste duty of care documentation
- powers to order landowners to clear fly-tipped waste from their land if they knowingly caused or permitted the fly-tipping
- (June 05) amendment of provisions for dealing with fly-tipping by:

1) removing the defence of acting under employers' instructions
2) increasing maximum penalty for fly-tipping to 50,000 in the Magistrates Court or five years imprisonment on indictment

- (October 05) gives courts new powers to deal with fly-tipping in that they can now:

1) award local authorities and the Environment Agency their investigation costs from those convicted of offences
2) award local authorities, the Environment Agency and landowners the costs of cleaning up fly-tipped waste
3) order forfeiture of vehicles used for fly-tipping

(October 05) gives local authorities better powers to investigate fly-tipping incidents

Nuisance Parking:
- (June 05) creates two new offences to help local authorities deal with nuisance parking: offering for sale two or more vehicles, or repairing a vehicle on the road, as part of a business
- on-the-spot fines for the two offences of 100

Abandoned Cars:
- (October 05) gives local authorities the power to remove abandoned cars from the streets immediately and to dispose of removed cars more quickly.
- on-the-spot fines now available for abandoned vehicles of 200

Other:

- recovery of costs for dealing with abandoned shopping trolleys from their owners
- extension to the list of statutory nuisances to include light pollution and nuisance from insects (for instance at sewage works).
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