Nick Herbert calls for action against litter

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has joined forces with bestselling author Bill Bryson to call for action against litter.

The Shadow Environment Secretary was speaking last week (9 March) at the launch of a new report, ‘Litterbugs', by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Policy Exchange think tank.

As CPRE President, Bill Bryson is leading a nationwide 'Stop the Drop' campaign and recently made a passionate documentary on the issue, 'Notes from a Dirty Island'.

Mr Herbert told the meeting that there is now five times as much litter dropped than there was in the 1960s, costing councils £500 million a year to clean up.

The MP said that tougher enforcement against litterbugs was part of the answer, but with only a one in half a million chance of detection, other measures needed to be considered.

He said: "I think a better approach in environmental policy is, wherever possible, to give people incentives to do the right thing.  For instance, there are countries where bottle deposit schemes have been introduced and littering has reduced as a result.

"Instead of automatically reaching for a regulatory solution, we should be looking at encouraging responsibility at all levels - individual, civic, governmental and corporate.  So we should look at producer agreements to help deal with litter and change behaviour.

"The businesses which make a profit from products like gum have a shared responsibility to help stop their waste product from disfiguring our streets and being picked up on our shoes."

Mr Herbert also called for leadership in the battle against litter, saying: "There used to be high profile campaigns to clean up Britain, but we don't see much of them now.  A cleaner Britain would make a huge difference to people's quality of life, but we need a government which cares about the issue and is willing to show a lead."

In West Sussex, Horsham District Council spends around £400,000 each year clearing up litter from roads, footpaths and public open spaces.  A further £30,000 is spent removing illegally dumped rubbish such as old appliances and bags of garden waste from the countryside and lay bys.  In Arun, the bill for keeping the streets and beaches clean is around £1.3 million a year.  Mid Sussex spends over £750,000 a year on street cleaning and around £25,000 a year to deal with fly-tipping.

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Notes for Editors

1. The launch of ‘Litterbugs' took place at the Policy Exchange, Clutha House, 10 Storey's Gate, London, SW1P 3AY on Monday 9 March at 10.30am. For a full copy of the report, visit the Policy Exchange website at http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/.

2. For a video about the launch, featuring Nick Herbert and Bill Bryson, visit http://www.conservatives.com/Video/Conservatives_TV.aspx?id=c17c94ff-356a-4ed5-9410-338976f1d712.

3. For more information on the CPRE's ‘Stop the Drop' campaign, visit http://www.cpre.org.uk/campaigns/stop-the-drop/litter-and-fly-tipping.

4. For further details on Bill Bryson's documentary, 'Notes from a Dirty Island', filmed for the BBC's Panorama programme, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/7543554.stm.

Ed Barker