by John Gale
A new AI based camera scheme is set to catch motorists in the act who dispose of litter from their windows, landing them with hefty fines.
From April, Maidstone Borough Council in Kent will employ the use of LitterCam to seek out and fine drivers flouting the rules in the first pilot scheme in the country.
Under current guidelines, fines begin at £90 and rise to £120 if unpaid after 15 days. The maximum on-the-spot fine in England is £150.
After verifying this, the evidence will be sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, which will provide the council with the details of the registered keeper and a penalty will then be sent through the post.
Anyone individuals wanting to see the evidence, can check the footage through the LitterCam portal. According to Highways England, around 200,000 sacks of litter are removed from England’s roads every year containing everything from coffee cups and the remnants of fast food meals, to nappies, cigarette butts and even apple cores.
Speaking to The Sunday Times he said: ‘It takes years for a cigarette butt to degrade, so we are saving the planet one step at a time.’ Other councils are in talks to use Litter Cam, including Wigan in Lancashire and Sheffield, as well as Transport Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland.
AI use and recent studies
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said using AI and surveillance cameras was the way forward in limiting the amount of rubbish that finds its way onto the roads and described the environmental impact as ‘desecration’.
A recent study found that as many as 3.2 million voles, shrews and mice die every year after crawling into discarded bottles and cans they cannot escape from. Presenter Jeremy Paxman, who is also patron of Clean Up Britain, said people should take more care before thoughtlessly tossing out their litter.
‘What goes through people’s minds, I guess, is that they want to keep the inside of their vehicle clean and therefore throw the rubbish out without realising they’re making it a problem for everybody,’ he said.
Following the Great British September Clean, an initiative from Keep Britain Tidy to clear rubbish from the roads, Highways England’s Freda Rashdi said: ‘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 spent improving the network.’