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Council powers are curbed – No more £1000 fines for putting rubbish out on the wrong day!

“Honest, hard-working people have been punished for innocent mistakes with heavy-handed bin fines for far too long.


Householders should no longer have concerns about innocent mistakes like leaving the bin out on the wrong day. – Picture: local.gov.uk
In a Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) consultation which started on 16 January 2012, lasting for 8 weeks, ending 9 March 2012, amendments were proposed which will abolish the criminal offence provided for in section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, together with the £1,000 fine that can be imposed. To replace the criminal offence a new civil sanction will be put in place.

Implimenation of the new proposals will assure householders that they will no longer face the threat of a £1,000 fine and a criminal conviction because they have failed to comply with a Section 46 notice from their council.

According to the government, the changes will mean that councils will still be able to take action against people who cause problems for their neighbours or the environment by not managing their rubbish properly, without the same threat applying to people that make innocent mistakes. Secondary legislation proposed sets a more proportionate fixed monetary penalty at between £75 and £110 that is more in-line with other offences.

“Honest, hard-working people have been punished for innocent mistakes with heavy-handed bin fines for far too long. We are now consigning these bin-fines to the scrap heap of history.

We want to see people helping us to boost recycling rates by putting out their rubbish correctly, but bullying them with fines is not the way to do it. This consultation will mean that only those causing real problems for their community will get punished.” Caroline Spelman – Environment secretary


WRAP goes on to say that the Government will bring forward legislative changes to remove disproportionate local authority enforcement powers against householders by spring 2013. To ensure local authorities use enforcement powers appropriately the Review proposed to set a “harm to local amenity” as a test before a civil penalty can be imposed. This would mean that enforcement is targeted at the small number of people who spoil the local area by the way they put out their waste, rather than applied to those who accidentally put their bins out wrongly.

This consultation is about the Government’s proposal to replace the criminal sanctions with civil sanctions, to put in place a “harm to local amenity test”, and to set an appropriate level of fixed penalties. Because these will involve changes to primary legislation (the Environmental Protection Act 1990), consultation and further primary legislation is required. In the meantime, the Government plans to make interim changes to the levels of fixed penalties to make them more proportionate.

The changes proposed in this consultation will apply in England only.

Further information can be found in the Household Waste Consult Doc 120116