1.1 Background to the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy (NLFS)
Litter and flytipping are well-documented indicators of local environmental quality and have significant social, environmental and economic impacts, and health implications. Research indicates that at least 15,000 tonnes of litter is disposed of into our urban and rural environment and is subsequently cleared by local authorities every year, which equates to around 250 million easily visible items. The same research reports that a further 26,000 tonnes of waste is flytipped each year and dealt with by local authorities, with an estimated 61,000 incidents occurring per year, although this estimate excludes the vast majority of cases on private land.
Litter and flytipping have both direct and indirect costs for society. Scotland spends an estimated £53 million of public money on litter and flytipping each year in direct costs (for clearance, education and enforcement activities). Indirect costs are the negative impacts or consequences of litter that impact on society more widely, for example, crime, mental health and wellbeing. Research suggests that indirect costs are likely to exceed £25 million. This cost does not include a comprehensive estimate for marine litter.
Litter and flytipping are indicators of the unsustainable use of our resources and represent a loss of material from the circular economy. An estimated 80% of the litter stream consists of potentially recyclable material and an estimated 50% of the material could have been easily recycled, had it not been littered. This unsustainable resource loss has a clear link to fundamental environmental challenges surrounding climatic change, as additional carbon emissions are released from the extraction and processing of constituent raw materials and the manufacture and transport of goods to replace the lost resources.
In 2014, Scottish Government launched the existing five-year National Litter Strategy ‘Towards A Litter-Free Scotland: A Strategic Approach to Higher Quality Local Environments’. This provided the strategic national framework for Scotland to begin to address some of the issues that result in unwanted levels of littering and flytipping. Despite current efforts and strategies, the problem of littering and flytipping in Scotland has not improved in recent years.
In March 2021, Keep Scotland Beautiful in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Government hosted a litter summit; this provided an opportunity to reflect on work that had been carried out under the first strategy and start to define future priorities for tackling litter. This was complemented by a roundtable meeting hosted by Scottish Government in January 2021, to discuss with stakeholders how to move forward work on tackling flytipping. Further to this, Scottish Government has committed to establishing a Flytipping Forum, which will convene from early 2022. The forum will be chaired by Scottish Government and hosted in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland and SEPA. This forum will provide an opportunity to support the implementation and monitoring of the Strategy and ensure ongoing engagement of key issues.
The Scottish Government has completed work to review the 2014 National Litter Strategy and has drafted a new Litter and Flytipping Strategy. It will treat litter and flytipping as separate but inter-related issues and identify a suite of measures to help prevent litter and flytipping, and therefore reduce the economic, social and environmental impact. It will build upon the previous five-year strategy and aims to provide an agile strategic framework to accommodate the changing landscape. Following consultation on a draft version of the new Litter and Flytipping Strategy (in combination with consultation of this SEA Environmental Report), a new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy is expected to be published in early 2022.
Items littered or flytipped in the terrestrial environment are part of a broader system, with many transported to the marine environment via fluvial pathways and other routes. Items littered on land in Scotland are now thought to constitute 90% of plastic in Scottish seas. In addition to the development of the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy, which focusses on the terrestrial environment, a separate review and update has been progressed for the Marine Litter Strategy (also originally published in 2014). The update to the Marine Litter Strategy will provide an increased focus on litter removal alongside litter prevention for the marine environment. Background to Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
In 2005 the Scottish Government established the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act. This Act, which came into force on 20 February 2006, replaced the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes (Scotland) Regulations 2004 as the transposition vehicle for the European Directive 2001/42/EC “the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment”).
The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires that environmental assessment is undertaken on all plans, programmes and strategies of a public nature which are likely to have significant environmental effects. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) aims to ensure that the likely significant environmental effects of plans, programmes and strategies are identified, described and assessed to avoid, manage or mitigate any significant adverse effects and to enhance any beneficial effects. In this context, the purpose of SEA is to encourage relevant plan authors to integrate environmental considerations into the development of any plan or programme.
The main benefits of the SEA process as set out in the 2005 Act are as follows:
- SEA improves the information base for plan, programme and strategy (PPS) preparation, providing clear information on the possible impact on the environment and influencing the preparation of the PPS, while building in better environmental protection and outcomes;
- SEA provides a rigorous system for including environmental factors in decision making, thus supporting a sustainable development approach;
- SEA facilitates an improved consultation process, including the rigorous assessment of reasonable alternatives;
- SEA also facilitates transparency, by requiring that an analysis of public comments is undertaken and made publicly available;
- SEA facilitates the consideration of cumulative effects and provides a means to prevent, reduce and, as fully as possible, offset any potentially adverse environmental effects.
SEA is an iterative process and comprises the following distinct stages:
- Screening – determining whether a PPS requires SEA.
- Scoping – establishing the scope and approach of the SEA, including the environmental topics to include, the context (a review of other PPS and the environmental baseline) and the assessment methodology, with the information presented in a Scoping Report, which is subject to a 5-week consultation.
- Environmental Assessment – identifying, describing and evaluating the likely significant effects of the PPS.
- Environmental Report - outlining the findings from the environmental assessment, consistent with the requirements of Schedule 3 of the 2005 Act.
- Main consultation - consulting on the draft PPS and Environmental Report;
- Post Adoption Statement – making the final decision on how or whether to proceed with the proposed activity, plan or strategy taking into account the comments resulting from the consultation and the contents of the Environmental Report; informing the public about that decision.
- Monitoring - monitoring significant environmental effects of implementation and taking appropriate remedial action for unforeseen environmental effects are also part of the final monitoring stage.
Scottish Government has screened the proposals for the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy against the requirements of the 2005 Act and identified that, in accordance with Section 5(4) of the 2005 Act, as it is likely to have significant environmental effects, a SEA is required. The SEA provides a systematic process for identifying, reporting and mitigating the environmental impacts of introducing measures to help prevent litter and flytipping in Scotland. Scoping consultation was undertaken on a Scoping Report, which ended on 20 October 2021. The SEA approach has been amended, where appropriate in response to the comments received. This scoping consultation comments and responses are documented in Appendix A.
1.2 Purpose of Environmental Report
This Environmental Report contains the assessment of the likely environmental effects arising from the introduction of the new measures to help prevent litter and flytipping in Scotland, specifically with reference to those topic areas scoped in during the initial scoping phase. The objectives of this SEA are:
- to ensure that the likely significant environmental effects arising from an introduction of new measures to prevent litter and flytipping are identified, characterised and assessed;
- to provide a framework for monitoring the potential significant effects arising from measures to prevent litter and flytipping in Scotland;
- to give the statutory consultees, stakeholders and the wider public the opportunity to review and comment upon the environmental effects that new measures to prevent litter and flytipping may have on them, their communities and their interests, and to encourage and support them to make responses detailing any such effects and how to mitigate these;
- to inform Scottish Government’s decisions on proposals to be included in the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy; and
- to demonstrate that the introduction of new measures to prevent litter and flytipping in Scotland are being carried out in a manner deemed to be consistent with the requirements of the SEA Act.
This report has been produced for inclusion within the public consultation stage of the strategy development process.
1.3 Environmental Report structure
This Environmental Report presents the findings of the SEA and is set out as follows:
- Section 1 – Provides an introduction and background to the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy and provides a broad overview of the content and purpose of this Environmental Report.
- Section 2 – Provides an overview of the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy and considers its implementation in the Scottish policy context.
- Section 3 – Sets out the approach to the SEA, the process to date and scope of the assessment along with mitigating and monitoring proposals.
- Section 4 – Provides an analysis of the Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna Topic area, its interdependencies, baseline characteristics and the likely significant effects.
- Section 5 – Provides an analysis of the Human Health Topic area, its interdependencies, baseline characteristics and the likely significant effects.
- Section 6 – Provides an analysis of the Water Topic area, its interdependencies, baseline characteristics and the likely significant effects.
- Section 7 – Provides an analysis of the Climatic Factors Topic area, its interdependencies, baseline characteristics and the likely significant effects.
- Section 8 – Provides an analysis of the Material Assets Topic area, its interdependencies, baseline characteristics and the likely significant effects.
- Section 9 – Provides an analysis of the Landscape and Visual Impacts Topic area, its interdependencies, baseline characteristics and the likely significant effects.
- Section 10 – Sets out analysis on possible cumulative effects across all topic areas.
- Section 11 – Provides conclusions and recommendations resulting from the assessment, and the next steps to introduce the new National Litter and Flytipping Strategy and the SEA process.