Belfast Telegraph

Councils clean up our act with nuisance fines of £80

By Linda Stewart

A wide range of nuisance behaviour will soon face on-the-spot fines of £80.

New laws that give councils tougher powers to tackle environmental crimes will be brought in on April Fools Day.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 comes into operation next week and contains new powers which cover many of the problems which can detract from the quality of life.

One of the key features of the Act is the increase in the level and range of on-the-spot fines for offences such as littering and dog-fouling.

It introduces new summary fines for a range of offences including certain types of nuisance parking, abandoned vehicles, breach of a dog control order, graffiti, fly-posting and noise.

Problems dealt with by the Act also include issues as diverse as light pollution, noisy burglar alarms, noise from licensed premises, abandoned shopping trolleys and problem alleyways affected by crime or anti-social behaviour.

Councils will be able to impose fines of up to £80 for such offences as an alternative to prosecution in the courts.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood called for councils to use their new powers in a decisive manner, saying: “The new laws are timely given that the visual appearance of Northern Ireland will be in the spotlight during the coming months with the Titanic celebrations and the Irish Open Golf championship.

“I welcome the positive benefits the Act will have for tourism and for improving the image of Northern Ireland. I am looking to councils, including Derry and Coleraine with coming events in their areas, to use these powers in a decisive way.

“I am very aware that for many people in Northern Ireland issues such as dog fouling, littering, noise nuisance and graffiti are major causes of annoyance and concern.

“The new measures in the Act were passed by the Assembly last year and demonstrate how effective the Assembly can be in helping to tackle local environmental problems for the benefit of all of the people in Northern Ireland.

“The new laws are an important addition to the toolkit of powers available to district councils to help them to deal more effectively with environmental crime.

“Councils asked for these additional powers and it is important that they use them to improve local environmental quality in their respective areas.

“What I and DoE are about is making Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and invest and this Act will help do that.”

More information on Clean Neighbourhoods is available on the DoE website at http://www.doeni.gov.uk/clean_neighbourhoods.htm.

factfile

Under the new Act you can be fined £80 for: dog fouling; nuisance parking; abandoned vehicles; breach of a dog control order; graffiti, fly-posting and noise. It also hopes to tackle noisy burglar alarms, noise from licensed premises, abandoned shopping trolleys and problem alleyways. The fines mean people can avoid going to court and it’s hoped the new powers will help clean up Northern Ireland and cut down on anti-social and nuisance behaviour.

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