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South Australians To Face Fines For Littering From Their Cars

Background

Litterbugs beware – you may face substantial fines with new laws coming into operation as of 1 May 2017. The State Government has launched a new campaign to curb littering by releasing a free dob in litterer app and a new website geared towards helping protect South Australia’s environment.

The reporting app and website were developed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)  will give power to the people who see someone committing a littering offence. By using the app and associated website individuals acknowledge that they may be requested to attend court and act as a witness to any contested matter. In addition, serious fines apply for lodging a false report.

The App is widely available on Apple and Android devices and allows individuals to report people who throw things like cigarette butts and fast food packaging out of their cars.

What happens if you get dobbed in?

A report using the app is sent directly to the EPA for investigation, and must be lodged within fourteen (14) days of the alleged offence.

Fines range from $210.00 for general litter, $500 for class B hazardous litter which includes lit cigarettes or butts, used syringes, waste glass (whether broken or not) or a combination of litter, and $1000 for quantities of litter over 50 litres such as illegal dumping

Has anyone been dobbed in yet?

Since February 2017, the app has been downloaded 1603 times and has resulted in 300 warning letters being sent out.

The majority of reports were for cigarette butts and the remaining reports related to takeaway food containers, plastic bottles and paper.

So, the next time you are stuck in traffic and decide to smoke a cigarette, or bite down on a delicious snack, butt out in your ashtray instead and save the waste.

What law governs this scheme?

The launch of Dob in a Litterer followed the introduction of the litter provisions in The Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 and a State Government commitment to introduce a public litter reporting system.

The objects of the Act are to protect individuals and communities from local nuisance, to prevent littering, improve the amenity value of local areas, and to promote the creation and maintenance of a clean and healthy environment.

The Act is being formally introduced in stages, with the littering components coming into operation on 1 February 2017. The additional local nuisance provisions come into effect on 1 July 2017.

What constitutes littering for the purpose of the Act?

The Act specifies that general litter means any solid or liquid domestic or commercial waste, and includes without limitation:

  • Cigarettes or cigarette buttons;
  • Chewing gum;
  • Food or food scraps;
  • Beverage containers;
  • Packaging;
  • Clothing, footwear, or other personal accessories or personal items;
  • Furniture;
  • Garden cuttings or clipping or other plant matter;
  • Garden landscaping material;
  • Dead or diseased animals;
  • Vehicles or vehicle parts;
  • Machinery or equipment used in farming or agriculture;
  • Demolition material including clay, concrete, rock, sand, soil or other inert mineralogical matter;
  • Building or construction material or equipment;
  • Any material or thing used for a prescribed activity;
  • Any substance, material or thing prescribed by the regulations;

How are drivers affected?

If the offence is carried on in, at, or from a vehicle, or in connection with the use of a vehicle, and the activity results in an offence, then the owner is guilty and liable for the offence. However,  if the actual owner of the vehicle did not commit the offence, they may provide the council or officer specified in the notice with a statutory declaration setting out the name and address of the person who the owner believes to have been the alleged principal offender.

What defences are available?

It is a defence to prove that the person took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

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Georgiadis Lawyers supports the State Government’s initiative in protecting our environment and keeping South Australia beautiful.

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