Fines for householders who accidentally break minor bin collection rules could be cut under government proposals.
Currently councils can issue residents with a fixed penalty notice of up to £150 if they put their bins out on the wrong day or put rubbish in the wrong bin.
Local authorities can also push for offenders to be given higher fines of up to £1,000, and criminal convictions.
Bin fines to be cut
The government is launching a consultation into the fines, which were designed to prevent people leaving rubbish to pile up in the street and recycling.
Under proposed changes local authorities would only be allowed to issue fines if they can prove residents are causing problems for the local community by putting out rubbish incorrectly.
Fixed penalty fines would also be cut from between £75 to £110 to between £60 to £80.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said: ‘Heavy-handed bin fines have for too long been used to punish people for innocent mistakes.’
5,000 fines issued
Nearly 5,000 fixed penalty notices for offences including using the wrong sacks for recycling or putting bins out on the wrong day were issued between May 2010 and April 2011, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Telegraph.
The fines were worth a total of £215,955.
Boost recycling rates
Which? deputy home editor Natalie Hitchins says: ‘We’ve all heard horror stories about people being hit with fines for accidentally including the wrong materials in with their recycling or leaving their bins in the wrong place at the wrong time, so these proposals putting the onus on councils to prove such behaviour causes real problems in the community will no doubt be welcomed by consumers.
‘We know that when it comes to encouraging people to recycling more, consumers say they prefer carrots rather than sticks, so we look forward to the advent of any new schemes that can boost recycling rates without penalising those who make innocent mistakes.’
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