Published: 14:07, 28 February 2021
| Updated: 11:29, 02 March 2021
Cameras to catch drivers who throw litter out of their car windows will be introduced in Kent.
From as soon as April, Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) will install LitterCam technology to detect those flouting the rules, with hefty fines issued to those caught.
It will be the first pilot scheme of its kind in the country as part of plans to make Britain's roads cleaner.
At the moment, the only way drivers can be fined for littering is if they are caught by a warden but under the new technology, the council will be shown footage and photos of number plates.
After verifying the evidence, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will provide the council with the registered keeper's details and a penalty notice will be sent through the post.
A LitterCam Portal will be set up for anyone wishing to view the footage.
Fines begin at £90 and rise to £120 if unpaid after 15 days. The maximum on-the-spot fine in England is £150.
According to Highways England, around 200,000 bags 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 apple cores.
Yet very few offenders are caught and handed a fine.
Last year, 200 fines were issued by MBC but this could soon rise to thousands.
Derek Mortimer, chairman of the communities, housing and environment committee, hopes the new scheme will highlight the council's zero-tolerance policy.
He said: "We have been looking at it for more than a year now and I've got a lot of confidence it's going to make a difference
"We have got quite a good reputation for taking action on fly tipping and we have a zero tolerance policy on litter across the board so this is really going to help us maintain that.
"I'm quite aware of people's civil liberties and we're not here to catch people out and send out multiple fines, it's mainly a deterrent.
"At the end of the day this is technology that is with us now and it's so accurate and we can use it to evidence the offence so it will make things easier for everyone.
"We want to make Maidstone a better place for everyone to live and protect the environment at the same time."
If successful, LitterCams could be rolled out across the UK.
In order for the pilot to work MBC is not giving away the location of the cameras but Cllr Mortimer said there are likely to be 'four or five on a roundabout or a road junction'.
They will be installed at no extra cost to the tax payer as the money has already been allocated in the councils street cleaning budget.
A spokesperson from MBC said: "The council is taking part in a trial of LitterCam technology in the borough; this will be a mobile unit which will be used to deter littering from vehicles and will be in place for a year.
"In 2020 MBC removed about 1950 tons of waste illegally disposed on the highway (including litter and fly tipped).
"The council will also continue to use more traditional methods of catching people littering and issued over 200 litter fixed penalty notices in 2019/ 2020.
"This new technology will enhance the enforcement action we already undertake."