Environmental management – guidance

Local environmental quality

Guidance for local authorities and other land managers in England on local environmental quality.


This guidance is for local authorities and other land managers in England, to help them understand the powers and tools available to them under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and other environmental legislation to tackle poor environmental quality and anti-social behaviour.

Litter and refuse

Local authorities are responsible for keeping their “relevant land” clear of litter and refuse. During the summer, “relevant land” includes beaches which are used for swimming or bathing.


Any person authorised to issue fixed penalty notices on behalf of a parish council must also have attended an approved training course. The approved course, Introduction to Fixed Penalty Notices for Litter, Graffiti, Flyposting and Dog Control Orders is run by Keep Britain Tidy. Defra is revising guidance for parish councils on using their powers under the 2005 Act.

Fixed penalties provide enforcement agencies, including local authorities, parish councils and national park authorities, with an effective and visible way of responding to low-level environmental crimes.

Defra is revising guidance on fixed penalty notices.


Dog Control Orders

Local authorities can no longer make Dog Control Orders. You should use powers under the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to introduce new controls.

Existing Dog Control Orders will stay in effect for 3 years and can be used to address problems with dog fouling, or to restrict where dogs can be taken and when they have to be kept on a lead.


Litter in water and coastal areas

It is an offence to drop or leave litter under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) on all types of land, including land covered by water. Therefore, fixed penalty notices may be issued to someone caught dropping litter into lakes, ponds, streams, on beaches and into water down to the low-water mark at the coast. Alternatively, the person may be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £2,500.

Keeping beaches clean

Local authorities and Crown authorities are responsible for keeping amenity beaches generally clear of litter and refuse between 1 May and 30 September each year. This is set out in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (PDF, 792KB, 59 pages) .

The duty under section 89 of the EPA 1990 does not extend below the place to which the tide flows at mean high water springs. However, in all other beach areas, the Code recommends those responsible for beaches regularly monitor them and develop an appropriate cleansing regime.

Blue Flag scheme

The International Blue Flag scheme is currently operated in England and Northern Ireland by Keep Britain Tidy, along with the Seaside Award for beaches with minimum water quality (mandatory) and good management criteria.

These schemes set environmental standards for beaches, including the provision of litter bins and beach cleansing, encouraging local authorities to improve the quality of coastal areas.

Quality Coast Award (QCA)

To complement the Blue Flag Scheme, Keep Britain Tidy have developed the Quality Coast Awards, The awards recognise beaches with a high amenity value that fulfil the expectations of different beach users. The scheme aims to reflect the hugely diverse nature of our coastline, the qualities of our beaches, and is open to all beaches in England.

For more information about the awards or the application process please contact Keep Britain Tidy on 01942 612621.


Fly-tipping is the illegal deposit of waste on land not permitted to receive it. Fly-tipping can be liquid or solid in nature. Fly-tipping differs from littering in that it invariably involves the removal of waste from premises where it was produced with the deliberate aim of disposing of it unlawfully, or as a result of legitimate outlets not being available.

The offence of fly-tipping and the additional offences of ‘knowingly causing’ or ‘knowingly permitting’ fly-tipping are set out in s.33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The maximum penalties for fly-tipping on summary conviction are a £50,000 fine and/or twelve months’ imprisonment. On conviction in a Crown Court the maximum penalties are an unlimited fine and/or five years imprisonment.

Both the Environment Agency and local authorities have powers to tackle fly-tipping. The Environment Agency investigates larger scale fly-tipping incidents involving more than a lorry/tipper load of waste, hazardous waste and/or fly-tipping by organised gangs of waste criminals. These incidents have the potential to damage human health and the environment. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and clearing up the smaller scale fly-tipping on public land.

On private land the responsibility for clearance of fly-tipped waste rests with the landowner. Local authorities may serve notice under s59 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requiring occupiers or landowners to remove fly-tipped waste. However, depending on the circumstances, local authorities will often provide landowners with advice and guidance on measures which can be taken to prevent further unauthorised waste deposits.

If you give your waste to someone else you must use a registered waste carrier:

Defra publishes annual Official Flytipping Statistics for England drawn from Flycapture on an annual basis. The latest statistics show that local authorities reported around 744,000 cases of fly-tipping in England in 2012/13 and that the Environment Agency dealt with a further 224 illegal waste dumping incidents.

National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG)

Government takes a lead in promoting a partnership approach to tackling the problem by Chairing and co-ordinating the NFTPG. The NFTPG brings together a range of interested parties including private landowners, local authority representatives, the Environment Agency, the Police and others. The NFTPG has produced guidance and provides links with similar initiatives in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Fly-tipping Partnership Framework

Developed by the NFTPG, the framework sets out a range of principles and best practice covering the prevention, reporting and investigation of fly-tipping and the clearance of fly-tipped waste.

Other local environment quality problems

Management of shopping trolleys

Abandoned and nuisance vehicles

  • Guidance (PDF) – to understand the powers available to local authorities and the police in respect of abandoned and nuisance vehicles. Nuisance vehicles include those that are untaxed, or are advertised for sale or being repaired on the road.


  • Guidance (PDF) - to understand sections 35 to 54 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (apart from sections 47 and 49), including offences relating to the transport, disposal and deposit of waste, potential penalties, and how to use enforcement powers such as fixed penalty notices.

Nuisance from noise, light or insects


  • Guidance (PDF) - an overview of sections 69 to 81 and Section 86 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, including how to address problems caused by audible intruder alarms, and when to defer issuing an abatement notice in respect of a statutory noise nuisance.

Nuisance from light and insects