Call to tackle littering from cars
Councils are calling for new powers to let them tackle the "huge and spiralling" problem of littering from cars.
Local authorities outside London want to have the power to fine vehicle owners if someone drops litter from their car to help tackle the thousands of sacks of waste that end up on roadsides every year.
They warn they are not able to tackle the problem effectively because they have to positively identify who has thrown the rubbish out of the car.
Councils are calling on the Government to bring in new regulations that bring the rest of the country in line with London, where vehicle owners can be fined, regardless of who dropped the litter.
Almost a quarter of motorists (23%) admit to having chucked litter out of the car, research suggests.
Clearing up the vast quantities of plastic bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers and other rubbish that gets dumped from cars is difficult, dangerous and expensive to clear up, the Local Government Association (LGA) warns.
On just 18 miles of A-roads in north Hertfordshire, some 80 tonnes of litter from cars were cleared up in an annual clear-up, the equivalent of 3,200 wheelie bins or 10,000 sacks of waste.
Council workers recovered 20 tonnes of rubbish including plastic bottles, drinks cans and cigarette waste along a 16-mile stretch of the A42 in Leicestershire.
And in Dorset it took a clear-up team five nights to clean a five-mile section of the A388, collecting nearly two tonnes of rubbish, at a cost of £10,000 to the taxpayer.
LGA environment spokesman Peter Box said: "Road litter is a huge and spiralling problem which is threatening to overwhelm some of the nation's roads. It is difficult - and dangerous - for councils to clear up.
"The litter louts who blight our roads and cost council taxpayers millions in clean-up costs are currently getting away scot free thanks to a legal loophole.
"It's time for the lazy, selfish people who toss rubbish from moving cars learn this behaviour is simply unacceptable.
"We are calling on the Government to urgently give councils the appropriate powers to tackle this issue head-on."
A spokeswoman for the Environment Department (Defra) said the Government was considering how best to support councils in taking action against littering from vehicles.
And she said: "Litter blights communities and poses a risk to human health which is why tackling this issue remains a priority for government.
"We want everyone to enjoy a cleaner, healthier country and we will build on our recent successes increasing powers to seize vehicles suspected of use in fly-tipping. This way we can clamp down on those few people who spoil our local areas with litter."