Litter picking costs Highland Council £2.5m a year

Man walking over cigarette ends The council said people discarding cigarette ends have been fined

A council preparing to make cuts to services and spending has said the job of cleaning up litter costs it £2.5m a year.

Highland, which will set its 2011-12 budget next month, has highlighted the cost during a zero tolerance campaign on litter and fly-tipping.

Dingwall, Fort William and Inverness were targeted in December.

Council enforcement officers issued 26 £50 fixed penalty notices, most for the dropping of cigarette butts.

From 17 January, the officers will return to the towns and city and also patrol Alness, Aviemore, Grantown-on-Spey, Invergordon, Nairn, Thurso and Wick.

Brian Murphy, vice-chairman of Highland's TEC services committee, said the authority was trying to get across the message that dropping litter was a criminal offence.

He added: "It is vitally important to ensure that we reduce the amount of litter dropped on our streets.

"We spend £2.5m per year on litter picking. With less litter to pick, we can divert our staff into other more productive duties."

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