The Stroud MP's weekly column.

The Stroud district is excellent at recycling and environmental issues. When I was litter picking last year with Cllr Haydn Sutton, a great number of residents helped, including school children who were busy telling me about the eco-bricks they make from bits of plastic. Yet, even here litter is still dropped. Some bin stores are busting at the seams and there is confusion about what can or cannot be collected by the council. Fly tipping can be a particular problem in rural areas.

The government has already done a lot to tackle this. They doubled the amount of money councils can charge for on the spot fines and created higher fines for dumping waste. Fly tipping carries a penalty of up to £50,000 and serious custodial sentences. The Local Government Association has however found that only two people have been given the maximum fine for fly tipping since 2014. Only 5% of court imposed fines were above £1,000.

On Sunday Politics West, my Labour colleague on the sofa complained about councils not being able to clean the streets but clearing up dropped waste is costing councils approximately £60m per year to clean up. Why should you, the tax payer be footing that bill? Should our busy courts and councils do more? I believe this starts as a personal responsibility issue. There will be occasions where litter flies away from bins in the wind or we litter by accident but invariably, we the public have control over whether we drop things or not. We don’t have to be Wombles to improve behaviour.

I welcome debate on this and about the proposed ‘Deposit Return Schemes’ for drink containers. The government had over 200,000 responses and the new Environment Bill will give powers to implement such schemes. Where they are in place, there is significantly less littering so I will be looking closely at the proposals.