28 July 2004 Report Publication

28 July 2004 Report Publication

Greater will and better co-operation hold

keys to ending environmental blight

The Environmental Audit Committee publishes today its Ninth Report of Session 2003-04 on Fly-Tipping, Fly-Posting, Litter, Graffiti and Noise.  The Report covers a variety of forms of environmental blight suffered today by communities across England and Wales. 

Announcing the Report, the Chairman of the EAC, Peter Ainsworth MP, said “There can scarcely be a town or village across the country where the local environment is not damaged or defaced by heaps of rubbish, fast-food litter, walls covered in untidy and illegal posters, obscene or ugly graffiti, or excessive neighbourhood noise. We note recent progress made in some of these areas as a result of the Government’s vigorous policy to stamp out anti-social behaviour, but there are deficiencies in the Government’s strategies.  In the Report we comment on how central and local government, and other organisations engaged in dealing with local environmental blight, might sharpen up their act.”

Some of the Committee’s recommendations are:

● “The war on local environmental blight has to be mainstreamed within local authorities.  Co-operation within and between councils must improve and likewise between national government and its agencies … Joined-up action against anti-social behaviour appears to be working: we hope that action against local environmental degradation, which is linked in many ways to the anti-social behaviour agenda, will soon begin to pay similar dividends.” (Recommendation 30)

● FLY-TIPPING: the Committee concludes that there is a need for greater powers, greater penalties, better co-operation and more resources if the probable increase in fly-tipping over the next few years is to be halted.  In particular, the Committee notes with concern the likely increase in fly-tipped waste from the significant planned house-building programme in the south east of England.  It welcomes DEFRA’s recent consultations on fly-tipping but notes that “consultations are pointless unless there is a chance that some of the new powers over which individuals and organisations are being consulted will be properly resourced” (Recommendation 4).

● FLY-POSTING: the Committee re-iterates the point it made in its Sixth Report, Environmental Crime and the Courts, that penalties are often derisory and offer no deterrent to offenders (Recommendation17); it also points out that the Government needs to look into ways of “making it easier for local authorities to take … companies [who use fly-posting for commercial gain] to court”. [Recommendation 18] 

● LITTER and GRAFFITI: the Committee calls upon local authorities to devote themselves with greater determination to eradicating litter and graffiti, and notes the importance of police community support officers and neighbourhood wardens in helping to stamp out these forms of local environmental blight. [Recommendations 23 and 25]  

● NOISE: the Committee notes the need for better information upon which to base future policy or legislation, and calls on government, local and national, “to join noise up more effectively with other local issues, to deal with aural blight as it is dealing with visual blight, and to make the connection that areas of the country where there are excessive noise complaints often border upon or are themselves subject to the degrading influence of litter, graffiti and everything else that goes with them.” (Recommendation 28)

Notes for Editors

1. The Environmental Audit Committee established its sub-Committee on environmental crime on 12 November 2003  in order to conduct a number of short inquiries.  It published its first Report in this series, Environmental Crime and the Courts, on 12th May 2004.  This Report, Fly-Tipping, Fly-Posting, Litter, Graffiti and Noise, is the second in the series.  Details of all the sub-Committee’s press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee’s Internet home page.