A47 litter build-up

UK’s Environment Capital…

In 2015 a Commons Select Committee concluded that that “England is a litter-ridden country compared to most of Europe, North America and Japan”. There’s been a lot of news around the pollution caused by plastic waste in the environment. You don’t have to go far to see this. The A47 to the west of Eye along the southern edge Star Pit Nature Reserve is one of the cities grot spots. The nature reserve is  a site of special scientific interest with many species of water beetle found in the shallow pools.

Cans, coffee cups and plastic bottles seem to make up a lot of the litter but there is also a wide range of packing, plastic bags, drinks cartons and miscellaneous pieces of cardboard. Some of it is quite old so it obviously hasn’t been cleaned for a while. If this was along Bourges Boulevard in Peterborough there would be an outcry, because this is in the ‘countryside’ it almost seems fine to ignore it.

Research on roadside litter by the RSPB and Keep Britain Tidy has found more than 8% of bottles and almost 5% of the cans contained remains of some of our rarest native mammals, including shrews, bank voles and wood mice.

Looking east along A47

It can be difficult to work out where the responsibility lies. In fact according to Highways England it sits with Peterborough City Council:

“Thank you for your email to the Highways England Customer Contact Centre dated 21 April regarding litter on the A47.

Highways England is responsible for the maintenance and stewardship of motorways and trunk roads in England. However, the responsibility for litter collection on trunk roads falls under the local authority. Under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990: Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, responsibility for keeping all-purpose trunk roads (APTR) free from litter falls to the local district and borough councils. There are a few lengths of trunk road on which Highways England is responsible for litter collection and these are detailed in the attached extract from the Network Maintenance Manual.

Rubbish build up

The link below also takes you to a page on our web site that details the A – roads for which we retain the litter clearance responsibility: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/responsibility-for-clearing-litter-from-motorways-and-roads

Highways England regularly monitors the cleanliness of its network, and where it considers that the standards set by the Environment Protection Act are not being met, writes to the relevant local authority asking for swift action to be taken to cleanse the area of accumulated rubbish. On safety grounds, any material that is a hazard to traffic (i.e. debris in live lanes) is removed directly by the Police or Highways England as a matter of priority.

Based on the information you have provided, the road you refer to is managed by Peterborough County Council. May I therefore suggest you redirect your query onto them.                                                                                    

I have listed their Highways Department contact details below: Tel:  01733 453 585 Email: ask@peterborough.gov.uk

We hope that by working with these district and borough councils we will be able to help resolve the issue of litter on the trunk road network. We also urge drivers to keep their rubbish with them and dispose of it safely and sensibly upon reaching their destination.

Looking west along A47

Thank you once again for contacting Highways England Customer Contact Centre. I hope that this helps with your enquiry. If you have any further questions regarding this or any other Highways England issue please visit our website where information on all Highways England policies and procedures can be found: http://www.highways.gov.uk. Alternatively please email us at info@highwaysengland.co.uk or you can contact us at our 24 hour Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

Thank you once again for contacting Highways England Customer Contact Centre. I hope that this helps with your enquiry. If you have any further questions regarding this or any other Highways England issue please visit our website where information on all Highways England policies and procedures can be found: http://www.highways.gov.uk. Alternatively please email us at info@highwaysengland.co.uk or you can contact us at our 24 hour Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

Highways England | National Traffic Operations Centre | 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Bus. Park | Birmingham | B32 1AF
Tel: +44 (0) 300 123 5000
Web: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/highways-england

Of course its not the fault of Highways England or the City Council that the rubbish appears there in the first place. Its a sad reflection on today’s society that so many still think nothing of throwing litter from their vehicle window. With budgets being squeezed the cleaning cycle gets further and further apart and the result is litter strewn verges. How you educate people that this isn’t acceptable still remains to be answered.

“Its a sad reflection on today’s society that so many still think nothing of throwing litter from their vehicle window.”

Its not just Eye that has this problem. See the video below from the A40 in Buckinghamshire.

And cleaning litter from the side of busy roads isn’t without its difficulties and can be a dangerous operation. It can be expensive to close a lane and cause huge disruption to drivers.

A spokesperson from Highways England is reported to have said: “Clearing litter from busy roads is a huge challenge, costing time and money which could be better spent on other priorities. “Every year we remove about 200,000 sacks of litter from across our motorways, at the cost of around £40 per sack – the equivalent of fixing a pothole.”

From April this year, the maximum on-the-spot fine local authorities can issue for dropping litter nearly doubled from £80 to £150. And for the first time, local authorities can also use these littering penalties against vehicle owners if it can be proved litter was thrown from their car. In a town centre its reasonable easy to catch litterers but on a fast moving road its much more difficult.

Will higher fines make any difference or is education the answer? Does any one remember the Keep Britain Today campaigns from the 70s/80s?

Can we put a price on the environment? Its seems we can and as summer heads our way the litter will again be hidden among the long grass and shrubs but it will still be there. Please take litter home and bin it.

If you want to read more  the Clean Highways website is a treasure trove of information.

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