IN 2014, the Scottish Government adopted a document called Towards a Litter-free Scotland. A review in 2019 claimed "significant progress has been made but litter and fly-tipping still poses significant challenges".

Last year, another new strategy to tackle litter and fly-tipping was announced with a consultation document circulated for comments. The Scottish Government has now published the responses and a final strategy with a six-year lifespan will be issued later this year.

Sadly, there’s nothing in the published responses to suggest that there will be any perceivable changes in how we deal with litter and fly-tipping – that are in fact two entirely different problems which require separate solutions.

The three main areas for comment were behavioural change; services and infrastructure; and enforcement.

In the first category, four out of five respondents "see a need for more research to understand the influences that lead to littering and fly-tipping: we need a national anti-litter campaign to educate the public, including children". I understood Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) had been doing that for the last 40-plus years?

Nearly half of the respondents saw a need for "a standard definition of litter". What for? We can all recognise litter when we see it.

The part about services and infrastructure is particularly woolly including suggestions that charging people to dump waste at waste recycling centres (WRCs) causes fly-tipping. Given that most fly-tipped waste comes from domestic premises (and can be dumped free at WRCs) that’s nonsensical.

As expected, the enforcement category has the usual soundbites about "making miscreants do litter-picks" (rather than fining them) although the councils’ trade unions won’t allow that to happen.

There’s also a call for higher fines, ignoring the fact that unless the councils and SEPA enforce the legislation, it will make little difference.

There’s no mention of the urgency to update COPLAR (the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse), or the duty of care: both of which could play a major role in addressing these problems, instead there’s the usual citation of voluntary groups as a solution.

Only 13 Scottish councils bothered to reply to the consultation.

The consultation document was drafted by Scottish Government in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), KSB and SEPA and their influences can be seen in the nature and types of questions put to respondents.

There was no opportunity to offer alternative options including whether ZWS and KSB actually deliver value for money or if their resources might be better spent by dismantling them and redistributing the funds to the councils, while retaining a small advisory core (around ten) at ZWS rather than the 150-plus staff they currently employ?

John Crawford spent many decades in the Scottish waste industry