Council intends to dump fines on fly-tippers
With the majority of the community fed up with illegal rubbish dumping (fly-tipping) in the district, Ōpōtiki District Council has announced its intention to implement a litter infringement offence and fee structure to help combat the issue from 9 October.
Littering is seen in many forms across the district from discarded cigarette butts to trailer loads being dumped illegally. Rubbish left on beaches during summer and fly-tipping in and around rivers and the coastal environment are particular issues. On average, Council spends $1000.00 a month on cleaning up rubbish illegally dumped in public areas.
The Litter Act 1979 gives Councils the power to establish infringement offences with associated infringement fees which would mean warranted officers can impose infringement notices 'on the spot'. Council would still be able to pursue prosecutions through the court system but infringements will provide a more cost effective approach to litter enforcement. Any unpaid infringement fees would be recovered by the Ministry of Justice, as is the case with other infringements.
Prosecutions can be expensive for the Council, and therefore ratepayers, and for relatively minor littering offences could be seen as a disproportionate penalty, not just in terms of any fine imposed but also a person gaining a criminal record upon conviction. Given the severity of this option, typically offenders often do not receive any form of punishment, other than being asked to clean their mess up.
Imposing infringement fees provides an incentive for would-be offenders to self-comply and not to litter and a strong message that the Council is committed to zero waste and littering is not tolerated within the district.
A copy of the proposed infringement fees can be found on the Fees and Charges page on this website.