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The only legal remedy the citizen has if his or her council, or other duty body,  fail to keep its land clear of litter is to complain to the Magistrates Court under EPA S91 (Summary proceedings by persons aggrieved by litter) under which the court can issue a Litter Abatement Order/

The process can take six months and involves two court appearances. The Council will invariably employ a Barrister and, if the citizen is unsuccessful, he can find himself having to pay costs in excess of £10,000.

John Hemming, the MP for Yardley  suffered that very experience in trying to get Birmingham City Council to remove accumulations of fly –tipped garden waste from the streets of his constituency.

If the land has not been cleaned by the time of the final hearing the court can issue a Litter Abatement Order instructing the council to clear it. They cannot however order the council to keep it clean in the future.

A Council can simply clean the location the day before the final hearing to avoid an order against them.

As 5 days’ notice has to be given before complaining to the court, S91 cannot be used to bring a council to book over failing to adequately cleanse, say, a busy shopping parade. As long as they clean it every 4 days they would avoid any action under S91.

EPA S91 is clearly not fit for purpose and needs to be reformed.

Litter Abatement Order cases – Scorecard

Litter Abatement Orders – in a nutshell

Peter Silverman
20th January 2015


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