Our road networks, in particular our motorways are “blighted by rubbish. I am aware that there is legislation in place however ….. it is frankly not working“.
Mike Penning MP
Under-Secretary of State for Transport
2010 – 2012 speaking in March 2010
See his speech on video
Clean Highways mission is :
- To find out why the litter legislation is not working and advise the Government accordingly
- To encourage local authorities to issue more on-the-spot fines for littering
- To get our motorways verges cleaned up
- To act as a focal point for those interested in UK litter legislation
Duty to keep land clear of litter
Under the Environmental Protection Act S 89(1) duty bodies such as the Secretary of State for Transport (motorways) and local councils (local roads & parks etc) are required to ensure, so far as is practicable, that their land is kept free of litter and refuse.
Litter Abatement Orders
If they do not do so the citizen can apply to the Magistrates Court for a Litter Abatement Order under EPA S91 to compel them to clear their land. In 2010 I took the Secretary of State for Transport to court over the deplorably littered state southern section of the M40. The action resulted in a six fold increase in cleansing activity.
I have been involved directly or indirectly in 15 other cases. In all but two cases there was appositive outcome. However going to court is very massively time consuming and potentially very costly and consequently I have concluded that this legislation is not fit for purpose.
The Highways Agency and the motorways
Our motorways were described by Mike Penning MP in Parliament in March 2010 as being “blighted by rubbish“. He said that the legislation was not working. (View his excellent speech).
I have concluded that the problem lies primarily with the failure of the Highways Agency to manage their contractors. No clear performance standards are set and, in spite of claims to the contrary, no meaningful monitoring takes place. I have recently written to the new Permanent Secretary at the DfT drawing his attention to the inadequacies of the Agency’s new contract.
I am hugely encouraged by the fact that Andrew Gwynne MP shares my concerns about motorway litter. He has written to Mike Penning’s successor as Under-secretary of State for Transport, Stephen Hammond MP, requesting he meets with us to discuss the issue.
This verbose and equivocal document is at the heart of the litter problem. Its “last resort” response times are widely interpreted by duty bodies as the required performance standard.
I have written a number of reports to government. I have had meetings with the Highways Agency, with their M40 contractor, with DEFRA and XFOR, and with my good friends at the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Clean-up Britain and most recently with Andrew Gwynne MP. I have been profiled in the Guardian. I have recently written a critique of the Manifesto Club’s attack on the use by Councils of contractors to levy on-the-spot litter fines. I have launched my first name and shame video. I have critiqued DEFRA’s new Code of Practice on fast food litter.
I am grateful for the messages of support I have received. Please keep them coming as this will strengthen my hand in the next phase of the campaign.