In a bid to rid our roads of rubbish, a new anti-litter scheme is being rolled out in some areas, with the installation of the new LitterCam to begin in April. Maidstone Borough Council in Kent will be one of the first to introduce the scheme.
The LitterCam will be able to identify motorists who discard litter from their car windows whilst driving, with fines being as high as £120. Litter includes items such as coffee cups, fast food, cigarette ends, and even apple cores.
This new initiative comes after Highways England revealed that a staggering 200,000 sacks of litter are removed every single year from England’s road, often including items that take several years to biodegrade.
While motorists can already be fined for littering, catching offenders in the act has previously been the responsibility of wardens, meaning that many motorists have continued to litter unnoticed.
However, with the new LitterCam, offending motorists will be caught on video footage that will then be scanned by high-tech LitterCam software. The video footage and photographic evidence will then be passed on to the DVLA after the vehicle number plate has been verified. As with speeding tickets, an address for the vehicle’s registered keeper will be identified, and a fine will be sent out. The fine begins at £90 and will rise to £120 if left unpaid for 15 days.
The initiative has been met positively by motoring organisations and environmental experts alike.
Freda Rashdi, Highways England, stated: ‘The simple fact is that if litter wasn’t dropped in the first place, it wouldn’t need to be picked up.
‘Litter is not only unsightly and a risk to wildlife and the environment, but it also puts our workers at risk collecting it and diverts time and money that could be better sent improving the network.’
Environmental expert and presenter Jeremy Paxman also praised the initiative and questioned the conscience of those who litter from their cars without thought:
‘What goes through people’s minds, I guess, is that they want to keep the inside of the vehicle clean and therefore throw the rubbish out the window without realising they’re making it a problem for everybody.’
[Image Source: Shutterstock, March 2021]
LitterCam latest in long line of new fining initiatives
While the LitterCam initiative is a positive step towards improving our roads for all, it has been noted that there appears to be an upward trend in the number of fineable offences coming into play for motorists.
In January of this year, for example, it was revealed that in addition to motoring offences like speeding, drivers will now also be at risk of being fined for more minor offences. These include driving in cycle lanes, failing to follow one-way systems, entering yellow-box junctions without clear exit and failing to give priority to oncoming traffic.
Similar to the LitterCam scheme, the minor traffic offences initiative uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to catch offending motorists and issue fines of up to £130.
Understandably, this was met with some contempt from motorists: ‘Most motorists think local authorities will rush to install cameras as a way to generate extra revenue’, said head of road policy, Nicholas Lyes.
He also stated: ‘Two out of five drivers we spoke to fear road layouts and signage will be made deliberately confusing to increase the number of penalties issued.’
Despite concerns, however, motoring lawyer Nick Freeman has defended minor offence fines, including the LitterCam and the penalties that come with it, even suggesting that this may not be enough to deter litterers completely:
‘Plans to use cameras to catch drivers dropping litter is a good idea in principle. But what’s the point of catching offenders if you then don’t punish them in a way that hurts? It’s just doing half a job.’
He continued by suggesting that a fine was not a heavy enough deterrent and should be accompanied by penalty points or even litter picking duties:
‘A fine isn’t enough. An endorsement of three penalty points is much more powerful.
‘What’s more, if offenders have to spend half a day picking up rubbish as part of their punishment, then they’ll literally have to clean up after their crimes.’
He concluded by dubbing the offence of littering a ‘shameful behaviour’ and suggesting that he is hopeful that the new LitterCam scheme will ‘lead to a change in attitude and prevent reoffending.’
Are you pleased that the LitterCam will catch offenders in the act? Or are you concerned about the increase in fines for motorists?
Let us know in the comments.