Council’s campaign against environmental crimes continues

Posted on: 5 February 2019

A year since the launch of its ‘Clear Messages’ campaign, North Devon Council is continuing the fight against environmental crimes and looking back on the successes of 2018.

In January 2018, the council’s environmental protection team launched a campaign to spread awareness of environmental issues and explain to North Devon residents how they can help to keep North Devon clear of litter, flytipping and dog mess. The campaign involved a mix of local press and social media activity, leaflets and posters, as well as ‘on the beat’ advice, events and partnership working with town and parish councils and community groups.

Throughout the year, the council dealt with 668 reports of fly-tipping, 287 abandoned vehicles, 14 littering complaints and 89 dog fouling issues. The environmental protection team successfully prosecuted six people for a mixture of offences (five for flytipping and one for littering from a vehicle) and issued 21 fixed penalty notices (11 for flytipping, four for dog fouling, four for littering and two for household waste offences). This is more than double the amount of fixed penalty notices issued in 2017.

In September the fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for environmental offences went up and stand as an even greater deterrent for those who don’t look after the district. The council can also now issue fines for flytipping for the first time. Previously all those caught flytipping would face prosecution at court, which is time consuming and can be costly. The council will now be able to issue fines from £150 to £400 for small-scale flytipping offences. Large scale flytipping, repeat offenders, operators in the waste management industry and those tipping hazardous substances will still be dealt with through prosecution in court, where fines can reach £50,000 or 12 months in prison.

The new FPN fines came into effect on 1 September 2018, with maximum fines of:

  • £150 for littering (including littering from cars)
  • £150 for graffiti or flyposting
  • £200 for abandoned vehicles
  • £400 for flytipping

As well as tackling environmental crimes, the council’s neighbourhood officers also pick up stray dogs and reunite them with their owners. Last year they looked after 143 lost dogs, 81 weren’t chipped. Microchipping your dog and keeping the details up to date (when you move house or they change ownership) is a legal responsibility and you can be fined up to £500 for failing to do so. The council had some very positive results reuniting many of its dogs with the help of the North Devon public through the power of social media, so much so that the environmental protection team now has its own Twitter account @NDCWardens. The team is also about to be awarded Community Safety Accreditation, which means they will have more powers and offer greater support to community partnerships.

Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Rodney Cann, says: “Last year our officers made great efforts to get their work in the public eye and for good reason – there are some people out there who think it’s OK to blight our beautiful district and they need to be stopped! We can’t look after North Devon alone – reporting offences is the only way we can really tackle these issues head-on so please help by reporting littering, dog fouling, flytipping and abandoned vehicles to us online so we can investigate. We plan to build on the successes of last year so keep an eye on the papers and social media and get involved by spreading the Clear Messages of the council’s campaign – join #TeamNorthDevon in the fight against environmental crimes and #stopmessingaround.”

Following the media coverage of last year’s campaign, the council was chosen to take part in a new TV series for Channel 5, which follows the work of the neighbourhood officers as they investigate environmental crime in North Devon. The series is due to be aired in the spring.

If you have an environmental issue in your area or would like to report flytipping, littering, dog fouling or abandoned vehicles, get in touch with North Devon Council online at www.northdevon.gov.uk/environment or call 01271 388870.

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Posted in: Community | Environment