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Which roads were in the worst condition? Share your ideas, start a discussion, or just ask a question.

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As the numbers have built up this been sent on to:

Nick Harris, HE’s Operations Director and others. See my  e-mail of 8th February 2017 (88)

Philip Rutnam, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport and others . See my e-mail of 1st March 2017 (119)

Bernadette Kelly the new Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport and others. See my e-mail of 8th August 2017

Peter Silverman.


517 comments so far

  1. Andrew Slater says:

    The A38 from Mansfield , including J28 of the M1, all the way through to Derby and beyond is absolutely shocking at the amount of rubbish and litter at the sidesof the riad and central reservations. Particularly after J28 to Swanwick on the A38, as there are a few I industrial estates and rubbish is blown from them onto the roads. Recently trees and undergrowth have been cut back to reveal even more rubbish. Its total disgrace, will anything ever be done about it???

  2. Chris roscoe says:

    M58 from J26 M6 towards Liverpool is a disgrace ! It’s full of litter. No one appears to care in maintaining our roads the country is a mess of litter. I’ve emailed highways but doubt anything will happen. All this stuff about wildlife and bottles etc.. and yet our own government ran departments don’t sort the source of it out !

  3. Anne says:

    At last there are rumblings (at government level) of plans tor reduce the use of plastics and to reduce the level of food waste in this country. I wonder how long before there’s some action on reducing roadside litter too……..

  4. Sandra Maxfield says:

    Traveling on the M18 and M1 – SO MUCH LITTER – disgraceful, disgusting, why don’t people take responsibility – take pride in their country – take their litter home and discard sensibly. Reading others comments I see mentioned it’s the fault of the Government, the Councils, the Councillors, the MP’s, unless they are throwing their waste thoughtlessly willy nilly out on our streets the only person responsible is the individual doing this act. Not just litter on the ground but plastic bags in tatters fighting trying to escape off tree branches.

  5. Derek Gilman says:

    No wonder we don’t have a consistent strategy on litter clearance. On one small stretch of the A2 in Kent, from Brenley Corner to Dover, verges are cleared by Swale, Canterbury and Dover District Councils, delegated by Highways England, who are responsible for road surface, and cleaning of signage/disposal of redundant road works detritus. Each district council probably has a different schedule for cleaning, resulting in a ‘patchy’ overall appearance, i.e. Dover might clear in April, Canterbury in August and Swale in September. In the meantime, you drive through clean/not so bad/filthy roadsides. But the main problem (I would say excuse, if i was more cynical) is health and safety, and I quote, from a local district council:

    ” The cleaning of the A roads is not now a straight forward task, Health and Safety now dictates that to clean these roads Traffic Management needs to be in place. To get Traffic Management approved, the District Council along with its contractor has to apply to Highways England for approval to work on the roads on specific dates. These are then approved or declined.

    The cost of setting up the traffic management is in excess of £1000 a day, so it is a very costly exercise. We try to program the cleaning on these roads for 2 to 3 times a year. The last clean of the A2 was back in September and the next clean will be March /April once the dates have been approved. We also try to clean sections of these roads ( so save ratepayers money ) when other works are being carried out on these roads. Some contractors will not let another contractor work in their TM space but we are sometimes successful in working alongside another contractor.

    The maintenance of the roads, the central reservations and redundant signs and traffic cones and the cleaning of the signs are all the responsibility of Highways England. ***** District Council are only responsible for litter picking the verges and they will continue to work with the other agencies to achieve this but we cannot just put men on the roads without going through the agreed processes.”

    What a complete bureaucratic mess, on what should be a relatively straightforward job! No wonder our roads are such a mess!!

  6. Lydie Dalton says:

    The state of verges on the A23 and A27 in Sussex particularly around Brighton & Hove and Lewes is shocking. It is hard to believe it is the state of roads in England, around cities with tourism-dependent economies. At times these roads are plain dangerous with large detritus such as disused traffic cones left on the sides of the road, large plastic wrapping, wood planks and metal fallen from freight lorries. Worst of all and inexcusable is the attitude of motorists who throw away their coffee cups and plastic bottles and then expect the public authorities to clean up the mess.

  7. Norman ellis says:

    The litter problem will never go away until something is done to put people off dumping out of their cars lorries etc . Signs need to be placed saying those caught dumping rubbish from their vehicles will be fined at strategic places i.e. Slip roads and roundabouts . Another suggestion is in Australia volunteers are encouraged to adopt a stretch of road and keep it clear of litter.

  8. Mike Waight says:

    I always knew that PFI was a leson in how not to proceed with major projects as it would leave the taxpayer by far the poorer but this revelation about the A69 is a appalling. Having once worked for an organisation that is the subject of a continuing 25 year PFI arrangement I can only wonder at the profits being made by the facilitating contractor and the losses being accrued by HMG. The public have been hoodwinked since the PFI schemes began.

  9. Glyn says:

    I drove from London to Wroxham using the A1 and A505 and was shocked by the amount of litter chucked out of cars onto the verges.Hardly a meter of roadside existed that was not covered with plastic bottles, wrappers, take-away coffee cups etc. After that I drove across the midlands through Shropshire and into North West Wales on the Lleyn Peninsula. From there to Kirby Stephen, Cumbria. With rare exception every single road was the same. What has happened to our culture? Things seem to have gotten a lot worse lately and there seems to be no political will to challenge this behaviour. My nephew told me that he had had to stop a young lad, travelling with him in his van, from throwing his empty coke bottle out of the van window. When my nephew remonstrated with him, the lad was unapologetic saying that someone would clean it up. Unbelievable! I wrote to Greenpeace asking if they would consider a campaign that encouraged personal responsibility but they told me that they did not believe it is write to ‘consumer blame.’ I am very discouraged. Thank you for your efforts.

  10. Ian says:

    I drove from the A1 to M1 today via Northhampton. I thought the roads in Hertfordshire were bad….. I notice more and more farmers are putting wire fencing up to stop the litter blowing onto their land. Every lay-by I past has overflowing bins and rubbish everywhere. What on earth are these councils playing at.

  11. Eileen Wigham says:

    M6 between junction 40 and junction 42 which I travelled on today is an utter disgrace. The amount of litter, plastic bottles and cans etc is sickening to see.. it is so sad our roads looking so messy. Highway England must tackle this problem .
    What happened to our national pride ?Returned on the A6 and it was equally bad..ashamed to be British.The roundabouts are even worse.
    I do litter picks on the minor roads where I live but we need a national clampdown on littering with stiffer penalties and even points on driving license if ever caught.

  12. Valerie Morganti says:

    All the minor roads in mid-Cornwall are a disgrace. The authority cleans out the ditches and unearths all the cans, bottle, McDonalds wrappers etc which have obviously been there for some time. No-one removes them they just wait for the vegetation to grow up and hide them until the next time the ditches are cleared. A winter walk which is meant to be relaxing ends up with me having smoke coming out of my ears. Disgraceful.

  13. David Sandbrook says:

    Is anyone else surprised that the government has yet to seek volunteers to litter pick major roads?

    • Ian says:

      They wont do it because of elf and safety,, I for one would like to see all the young (and old ) scroats on community payback doing it …. Im ashamed to live here now.

  14. Emily A says:

    I am so glad to have found this site, I thought I was the only person who cared about the state of litter on our roads and in the UK generally!

    I agree that the majority of litter seems to be fast food packaging, bottles, coffee cups and cans thrown from car windows. It must surely be a minority of people causing the majority of the litter though as I have never actually seen anyone throwing litter out of their car window.

    I would suggest three things that would help solve the problem:

    1. A bottle/can deposit return scheme
    2. Polluter pays – the big corporations such as Macdonald’s, Starbucks, pepsi etc produce the majority of the waste, they should subsidise the clean-up
    3. Finally as well as much greater fines for littering, why can’t license penalty points be given to drivers who throw litter out of their windows whilst driving, or allow their passengers to do so? I think this would be a much greater deterrent than monetary fines.

    I live in greater Manchester and it honestly feels like living in a bin – the scale of the problem is overwhelming.

  15. James Vincent Miller says:

    NB have issues a complaint to HE ref M23 and Basingstoke & Deane BC ref A34

  16. James Vincent Miller says:

    Mixed bag from my recent journeys:

    M23 Gatwick to M25 Northbound = Grade D litter.
    M3 Winchester to M25 = Grade A/B
    M25 J12 to J7 = Grade B sometimes C
    A34 Basingstoke & Deane Area = Grade D
    A34 Winchester and West Berka area = Grade a/B

  17. Ben Verinder says:

    We have just driven from Tring in Hertfordshire to East Harling in Norfolk and both the A41 and A11 were horrendously littered, but sadly typically of the state of English A-roads. The most powerful advert for littering is litter – it is a phenomenon driven by social norms. As public bodies fail to exercise their duties, driven in part by funding cuts, we intensify the problem. This has to change and soon.

  18. Bill Jackson says:

    How can I get a stretch from Jct 16 on the M6 eastwards towards Stoke cleaned ? Year after year it gets worse and the area between the crash barriers is now deep with litter for .at least a couple of miles

  19. Andrew Harding says:

    Around a year or so back I reported the filthy conditions on the A1 particularly from Sandy to Blackcat roundabout to St Neots and also beyond to Buckden. The slipway onto the A1 is also disgusting at St Neots, has anything changed? I did once see some litter pickers near Sandy and at one layby but otherwise the litter just sits there. So in essence things have changed, it has got worse! I read the other reports and it is evident that no one is taking responsibility and we are all meant to just ignore it and hope for more snow to disguise it? Then it will be spring and the plant growth will hide it up. What an embarrassment and how very depressing.

  20. Joanne says:

    A6104 junction with M60.
    Junction 31a slip road onto M6.

  21. Una Villis says:

    The amount of litter on the motorways is getting much worse, It is so sad to see our beautiful country side blighted in this way, so I have an idea, close sections of the motorway one way at a time and do a massive public clean up similar to the beach cleans carried out by volunteers. It would inconvenience people and that might make them think. Very busy people do not like being inconvenienced. While the clean is going on educate with huge billboards. Get the children involved they will shame the lazy adults who still think Mum will clean up after them. What do you think? It would take a lot of organising but maybe link up with another environmental organisation. We must do something.

  22. P Morrod says:

    A13 out of London towards the Dartford Crossing is absolutely filthy. Lots of plastic litter all over the banks. A disgraceful state of affairs. I live in continental Europe and often drive back to the U.K. and it’s so sad to see this as a representation of Britain.

  23. Ian says:

    Its not just me then. I live a mile from Junction 21A of the M25,,,, the council seems to litter pick about twice every year leading up to the slip road and the M25 bit is prob done once a year, they both seem to leave out the slip roads and roundabouts (same around the country), its getting really bad and some places more rubbish than grass. I have over the last two years asked why oh why grass cutting can;t be co-ordinated with litter picking, I think the overpaid managers in the public sector are just dim wits who could not get jobs in the real world. Personally I would sub litter picking out to the private sector with a real ring fenced budget. OR once we are out of Europe get all the little toe rags to pick it as part of rehabilitation. Massive fines as well with 10% going to the CCTV operator as an intensive.

  24. Alice says:

    While I have reservations about Highways England’s standards on roads they maintain, particularly around slip roads and roundabouts, the real eyesores are they trunk roads looks after by local authorities, while are really disgusting in places (the A road near Ely and the A12 in Essex particularly spring to mind). It is just horrible driving on so much of the network and the depressing feeling is compounded by the sense that the problem couldn’t be more obvious but no one takes any interest in sorting it out.

    On the other hand, most of the M40 is wonderful so let’s have more of that!

  25. Karen Coombs says:

    My husband and I have done litter picks twice in the last three weeks – the slip roads off the A50 and the roundabout to the A515. A boot full each time.
    The central reservation of the A50 is full of litter and the weeds untreated.
    Last time I drove down the A38 between Willington and Burton, I was horrified – overgrown verges, litter everywhere, bins overspilling in the laybys.

  26. Adrian Stewart says:

    A17 from sleaford is litter strewn bottles cans mostly good related items. Councils grant permission for these fast food outlets so its their resporesponsibility to clean the mess created. Unsightly and danger to wildlife.

  27. Cheryl Peers says:

    Fly tipping never dealt with in months by Stevenage Borough Council and North Herts District Council.

    I have taken photos of a toilet fly tipped 4 – yes 4 months ago and it is still there in a disused bus stop. Stevenage Borough Council are aware of it. There is also a fly tipped old mattress further along High Street Graveley. NHDC notified but not dealt with – been there many months.

    There is a proposed travellers site in the area beyond the place where toilet bits are – God knows what Stevenage Borough Council will do with the expected rubbish if they can’t be bothered (or arsed might be a better word) to move one toilet.

  28. Derek Gilman says:

    Roads in Kent are in a dire state. Garden of England?? What must visitors think when, travelling through the county,they are met by streams of rubbish along the roadsides and central reservations, filthy broken signage, HE obsolete road works detritus and swathes of industrial wrapping material. If I was arriving from the European mainland, I would be tempted to turn around and head back home. This must be affecting tourism – especially return visitors.

  29. John Woolmer says:

    Failing to clear roadside litter is shameful – especially when HE and others are paid to do so.
    Just returned from Prague & Budapest…their roads and litter management put us to shame. Why do our ‘authorities’ allow such ribbons of filth and neglect to continue?

  30. April Lambourne says:

    As leaders of a community litterpicking group for the last 6 years we are disgusted and depressed by the state of highways and lay-bys in the South East. The message has to be got across to the general public and also lorry drivers, including those from Europe, that littering our highways is not acceptable in this country – Highways for England need to clean up effectively and fine heavily those responsible. Surely there is enough cctv evidence. To prosecute some high profile cases? I wonder if KCC are still giving out a free bin bag to lorry drivers entering the country or was the stopped because of cutbacks?

  31. Avis Reynolds says:

    I live in Maidstone, the county town of Kent in the Garden of England. My German friends describe their drive from Dover to Maidstone as a drive through a dust bin and cannot understand why? They said no German would put up with this lack of care and maintain on the autobahn. I simply stated nobody listens, the government doesn’t care and so the nation doesn’t care either.

  32. T Barham says:

    I am frequently saddened and ashamed of the state of our roads and verges. It appears to blight the whole of Great Britain. It’s obvious that Highways England & local authorities don’t care. Where has our national pride gone?

  33. Richard Beattie says:

    Last month I was in one of the poorest countries in Europe. On the drive to the airport, I barely saw any litter, which was typical of the overall condition of their road network.

    Then I landed in the sixth richest country in the world. My entire drive home from Manchester was blighted by mile after mile after mile of total filth, just left to pile up on the verges.

    The excuses always wheeled out at both a local government and national level are as pathetically hollow as they are predictable – lack of funding, health and safety, public behaviour so on.

    Look abroad and these explanations crumble.

    The difference is that other countries see the condition of public spaces as a matter of pride. We don’t.

    Other countries resource roadside cleaning because it makes a place look presentable and it matters to people. We don’t.

    Other countries use common sense to coordinate basic works such as grass cutting with litter picking, rather than shredding roadside litter and then just leaving it. We don’t.

    Other countries hold local authorities and highways agencies to account if they fail to look after the areas they are paid to maintain and have a legal duty to look after. We don’t.

    The agencies responsible for keeping roadsides clean – local authorities and Highways England don’t care about this issue. The people who pay their wages – the public – largely do care. The government’s role is therefore to force the agencies to care.

    The carrot approach isn’t working. It’s time for a very big stick!

    Other countries put actions above cicular dialogue and put frontline resources into something if it needs fixing.

    Other countries care what residents and visitors alike think. We don’t.

  34. If I was with John Hayes MP I would ask the following.

    We know the culture of littering is bad but that does not exempt Highways England and Co from removing litter properly, regularly and monitored by a KPI. Highways England are an arrogant organisation but publicly funded who think will not listen to it’s customers. The whole organisation is in total denial and disinterested in the litter problem and as waiting for cultural change to solve the problem, yet in the meantime are gladly acting illegally by flouting the Act of Parliament passed by Margaret Thatcher called the Environment Protection Act 1990.

    Summary: National embarrassment, dirty, filthy environment condoned by the Government, Ministers, Department of Transport, Ministers and the private contractors funded by the taxpayer. No real and proper anti-litter strategy to SOLVE the highway litter problem. It’s not hard but needs resources and policy and a KPI.

  35. Derek Gilman says:

    Our ‘green and pleasant land’ is becoming a rubbish tip. With financial cutbacks, local authorities and Highways England are increasingly unable to cope with the problem. Cleared stretches of roads/motorways are littered again within days. We do not need any more reports, enquiries, consultation documents, strategy statements…etc. We need decisive action by way of effective public education and monitoring, stringent fines and user friendly bottle/can return deposit schemes. If other countries are able to do this, why do we find it so difficult? And on a local level, why not make everyone responsible for clearing rubbish in front of their properties? Sorry, scrub that…far too draconian and an infringement of civil liberties!?

  36. Ray Krystofiak says:

    I have made numerous complaints to Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council regarding the amount of litter on the verges by the M1/J5, A41 roundabout. The excuse I am given is that the roads have to be closed off before any litter picking can take place. What nonsense. When the litter is eventually cleared, the roundabout unfortunately returns to the same filthy state within a matter of weeks.

  37. Peter Walker says:

    I have been reporting a build up of roadside rubbish on the M25, junctions 21A to 27 and the J21A exit slip (clockwise), for over 10 years but very little has changed ! In early November this year I reported the same issue and I was advised that the next clean for this part of the M25 itself (not the slip road) is 1st—13th February and by then that stretch will not have been cleaned for nearly 5 months. Allegedly, litter surveys are carried out fortnightly on this section of the M25 and necessary actions are put in place to address the issues based upon the grading……this simply is not happening.

  38. Geoff says:

    I travel all over the UK regularly – there does not seem to be one area that hasn’t escaped the dreadful blight of roadside litter – I am constantly amazed at what we have allowed our beautiful country to become ! We need action NOW – Bottle & can deposit scheme would be a start – then tackle the fast food & drink industry !

  39. Brenda Shore says:

    Many major roads in this country are a disgrace. I live near the A38 in Derbyshire. It is covered by many local councils who are the end responsibility to clean but are short of funds and staff. One council litter picking division who applies to HE to have to get it closed off for four nights every spring told me he finds HE are slow to respond to his requests. Many slip roads are so littered that I think it is now almost impossible to clean up. Bins and anti litter signs are totally inadequate. However toll roads are clean and well maintained. I could go on. it’s totally shameful.

    • Geoff says:

      Hi Brenda – I too live near the A38 in Derbyshire & travel it regularly – they are currently cutting back vegetation on the stretch towards the M1 – they are exposing mountains of litter , however no one bothers to co-ordinate a joint litter picking exercise which would be common sense you would think – ?? I am ashamed of Derbyshire every time I use this road – Whatever visitors to our region think I cannot imagine !

  40. i live in a delightful part of England – a small village between Warwick and Stratford upon Avon. My village is litter free but the surrounding roads leading to main roads and motorways are disgraceful – full of litter and dumped detritus. Bring in a returned bottle scheme – as in my childhood – that would reduce litter by 50%. Do it now! Why do continue to wait?

  41. Clifford Cotterill says:

    I haven’t travelled along the A14 for a few weeks but whenever I do it’s an utter national embrassment. Litter of all descriptions, paper, plastic, vehicle bits from the M6 junction to the A1.

    Another black spot is the A38 from north Birmingham towards Lichfield.

    I have driven in many countries around the world and with the possible exception of The Gambia, our roads are the dirtiest. I suppose if we leave the EU, we can concentrate on making them even worse.

    Clifford Cotterill

  42. Nigel says:

    Message to John Hays MP Minister of State for Transport: The state of our roadsides and verges is a national disgrace; drive through any northern European country to confirm this. The collection of roadside litter in this country is poorly funded, shambolic and piecemeal. It is not good enough for the government and the highways agency to simply blame motorist behaviour. Radical changes are needed. Please also introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic and cans.

  43. John Ford says:

    Hillside through roads in the Chilterns AONB regularly littered. Lay-bys on A413 and A418 between Great Missenden and Oxford regularly used for fly tipping. If we can’t keep our own countryside clean what chance the oceans? Needs a change in the law and a change in behaviour.

  44. Justin Matthews says:

    Why not pick up rubbish after carrying out strimming/cutting works? It seems not to happen together.

    • David Sandbrook says:

      Litter picking prior to grass cutting is better. Litter picking after hedging is the only way to remove litter ‘buried’ in roadside hedgerows.

  45. laurence wells says:

    M25 and A3 particularly as you approach London and slip roads and roundabouts in particular are a disgrace just as many London borough and counties generally. At last we see multinationals and Michael Go e acknowledging the issues. But there need to be joined up procedures and ambitions across industry, government, councils, highway agency, schools and so on. Enforcement of the law is needed: people litte because they are lazy, utterly selfish and do not even contemplate the repercussions for those who have to suffer through it, those who have to clean it up and society in general. There needs to be strong penalties and publicising of these (stick) and education through all media and schools (carrot) together with taxation (stick) and deposit return schemes for glass and bottles. Plastic cups an dither single use items need to be phased out whilst resources put into and scrutiny of the highghways agency and other bodies responsible for cleaning it up.

    • Laurence

      Agree totally. Since 2006, I have been lobbying my MP for deposits systems on all drink containers similar to Germany but at the time it was ignored; now it is at the top of the environmental agenda only because of the Marine Conservation Group and Surfers for Sewage who have hit the government with the embarrassing statistics of ocean and sea littering. Deposits are sensible and will cut litter everywhere including motorways. The next thing is coffee cups and all fast food containers and food on the go. If consumers in the UK cannot act in a proper manner and bin their litter then more legislation is required. I have German friends and when I visit Germany I never see drink related litter and very little fast food litter. Their anti-littering has come from behaviour change over decades due to small changes in government legislation and what you see is a country that is not covered in filth as is the case with the UK. I am embarrassed to be English when my German friends come to stay.

  46. Robert Pickles says:

    Digraceful. Embarrassing. Disgusting. Pathetic. Utterly ashamed to be English.



    I sum up the state of the Highways England network and the appalling litter problem.

    Department of Transport and Highways England blame the nation for the litter problem;

    Denial there is a problem leading to a culture of inaction throughout the supply chain;

    No KPI for litter picking yet one for biodiversity so how can you have one without the other;

    Highways England and private contractors funded by the taxpayer ‘doing their own thing’ and do not recognise the letter of the law EPA 1990;

    Health and safety and other excuses used to avoid daily or weekly litter picking in order to save money;

    No national anti-litter campaign that is hard hitting;

    No enforcement of waste lorries where rubbish blows from trucks;

    Overall, the network is a national disgrace and resources are not being spent to regularly and properly litter pick all areas of the network.

    Spending £8 million per annum on the whole network is not a triumph but says litter is not a priority;

    A new national litter collection and soft landscaping should be formed so they can concentrate on litter picking and grass cutting and soft landscaping management. At the moment we have an unkempt, unmanaged network, bad practices of grass cutting before litter picking.

    Finally, the whole network is a national and northern European disgrace and the levels of litter are never seen on the continent. Are we a first world country? I think not, we are demonstrating a nation equal to third world and one that has no pride.

  48. John Ford says:

    Rural roads in the Chilterns regularly littered by refuse thrown from car windows, especially on hilly inclines. Seems it is easier to chuck stuff out when the car is going slower. Regular route to work from Great Missenden to Oxford: laybys on A413 and A418 in both Bucks and Oxon are regularly littered, quite often with fly tipping.

  49. Marc Fovargue-Davies says:

    Every time I go into Cambridge on the A10, it’s like driving through a bin bag; some undoubtedly blows out of the recycling centre just north of the city, but that doesn’t explain fifteen miles of trash. It never ceases to amaze me that we can tolerate this at all – let alone in a country that relies heavily on tourism. Nor is this ghastly attitude restricted to roads – every summer, I pull a dozen or so bin bags of trash out of the River Cam, between Baits Bite lock and Waterbeach. It’s quite tempting to go and deliver it all to the Palace of Westminster…

  50. S.Dennard says:

    1) A huge amount of the UK roadside litter is plastic bottles & drink cans. A good number of the comments compare our roads to much cleaner highways on the Continent. A sensible plastic bottle / can Deposit scheme in the UK as on the Continent would keep our highways far cleaner without the need for arguments of who cleans the roads, how often it’s done and who pays for it.
    2) Greater pressure on fast food multinationals to emphasise “Keeping Britain Clean” in their marketing the same way they tell us that their food is sourced ethically and is good for us, will also help the state of our roads.

  51. Louise R says:

    Just travelled from SE24 in London to Sussex via A20 and M25. All of it was dirty. All of it. Did not go more than a few meters without some plastic trash visible, the A20 was particularly awful. This included central reservations, slip roads, junctions, and included a carpet, full bin bags of rubbish, and accident detritus still on the road. There was a particularly horrid dump just before Swanley services. Stuff was caught in trees and fences. We have gone backwards, it NEVER used to be like this. Absolute disgrace, England has become exceptionally third world and no one in charge seems to care. How can you expect people to take pride in their neighbourhoods and areas when profit is put above doing the job properly by those making decisions at the top?

  52. Eleanor Williams says:

    Having been a litter gatherer for years, I despair to see the state of Northamptonshire roads, the A45 is especially bad. I’d like to see bottle/can return depots instituted, you’d get many people out collecting them then! Having lived in Canada for many years, I know that that system works. I enquired about this with our local MP (Chris Heaton-Harris) and was told that the Dof E considered that it was not viable to install such facilities.

    I’d also like to see community service include litter picking.

    Another issue is highway contractors not removing all their debris from road works – signs/stands, sand bags, cones, etc. are regularly left cluttering up verges.

  53. Chris Dring says:

    As many people have said, it is not just HE’s roads which are unkempt. In fact some of the motorways round here (Chichester) are positively clean compared to minor roads in the County. I too see slip roads as the worst problem of all because nobody seems to take responsibility for them. A bit of joined up thinking here wouldn’t go amiss. Do something about coffee cups and plastic bottles and the litter problem would be far less. Oh, and get rid of those stupid traffic management regulations. I mean what danger is someone walking down a verge really In?

  54. Mark Risso says:

    British roads are simply a national disgrace. What will it take for someone in authority to sit up, listen and have enough about them to do something about this serious problem?

  55. Nigel Spencer says:

    Our motorways locally are a disgrace. I am regularly told by Balfour Beattie that they carry out monthly inspections and grade the state of the roads in line with the Highways Agency website. This is clearly not the case in our area and what is more surprising to me is that the Highways Agency do not do any spot checks just relying on feedback from the contractors. This is no way to run an organisation.

  56. Dennis Cowen says:

    Highways around south Hertfordshire are deplorable in terms of littering and emptying of what few litter bins there are (in lay-byes). There is no link-up between grass-cutting and litter-picking. Grass-cutting needs to be more regular which would allow litter-picking BEFORE thus avoiding grass-cutting machinery chopping up litter into smaller pieces and making it hard to collect. Finally litter-picking should be carried much more regularly as the sight of litter creates more people to litter.

  57. Alasdair Ritchie says:

    In these uncertain times surely we need to collectively clean ourselves up and look like we give a damn? Why are our roadsides so damn scruffy compared to all our neighbours and peers? Seriously – how can it be so difficult to keep them clean? Do we litter more than other countries? Maybe. Well let’s step up the punishment then, make it draconian if that’s what it takes. Do we not clean the roadsides as often as other countries? No? Well then let’s start doing so. Right Now.

  58. Digby Williams says:

    I live in East Kent and the majority of our local A & B roads have litter strewn verges. There are hot spots around busy junctions or in the vicinity of retail or industrial parks that are like public rubbish dumps. It is never ever cleared by the local authorities. While that is a disappointment it has to acknowledged that 95% of the litter is food & drink packaging thrown out of car windows by selfish ignorant people. If it weren’t for the behaviour of this (sizeable) minority the roads would be much cleaner. It is truly shameful that our beautiful country is reduced to this by these people. There should be a permanent and persistent campaign of public information about littering coupled with an aggressive regime of enforcement and fines for offenders. I also think that throwing litter from a vehicle should be treated as a driving offence with fines and points on the licence leading to a ban for persistent offenders.

  59. Adrian Phillips says:

    It has all been said a hundred times before: our roads are filthy, far worse than those of our neighbours in other European countries. They are a national embarrassment. The problem affects not just motorways and M-way junctions but most main roads. Far too little effort is spent on promoting better public behaviour and far too little money on cleaning up the mess. Nothing short of a sustained national campaign will change things – why can’t the Government grasp this nettle?

  60. Judith says:

    The A10 between Cambridge and Ely is always
    A mess from churned up grass verges,
    Road kill and litter. The is a waste landfill site in the
    Same area too.

  61. David Basson says:

    Motorways in Southern England are simply not picked for litter regularly enough. Slip roads especially bad. I regularly report litter but response is generally slow.

  62. Joy Armstrong says:

    The verges of the motorways and main A roads in the Midlands are filthy. I regularly travel the M1, M69, A1(M) or M42 and they are all, without exception, filthy. Its not like this in France where I also travel regularly – not just the tolled autoroutes, but the national roads are clean too. I am ashamed to be British. Thanks Pete for continuing the battles on behalf of us the public, who are disgusted at this state of affairs. ps Writing to my MP has produced no results either.

  63. Carole Thin says:

    The A34 going south from Oxford is always litter strewn. The council doesnt bother about it.
    There is probably a law against it but I would love to organise a litter clearing group myself.

    • Roger says:

      Have a look at our website. If we can help you set up a group we will. Last year we collected over 3000 bags of rubbish (and lot of larger items) across our borough.
      This year it’s a lot less because we’re only collecting ‘new’ droppings! Maybe we’re lucky but we now get great support from the council as well. The difference between areas we look after and those that must be cleared by HE because of H&S issues is amazing.
      Go for it Carole.

  64. Brian fowle says:

    No matter how many times we complain about the litter on our roads very little ever gets done about it, the government, local authorities and a good deal of the population
    are not interested. What has happened to our green and pleasant land I despair.

  65. G H Bell says:

    If we want to impress our international visitors about our filthy habits, just ask them to look at our verges.

  66. Cliff Cooper says:

    Junction 18 M1 linking to the A5 is a disgrace and is never cleaned. Lorries park under the M1 and leave their rubbish and the island is overgrown and covered in litter. Highways England when contacted denied liability and said only the sliproads were theirs but the map showing their resposibiltiy also shows the A5 is theirs so what is going on? Who is liable to clear and clean the Junction 18 island. let’s have a definitive answer once and for all?

  67. Cheryl Peers says:

    The verges, particularly in Stevenage, Graveley and Hitchin are absolutely appalling due to the amount of litter and fly tipping – eg toilets and mattresses.

    I have asked Stevenage Borough Council several times some months ago to remove a fly tipped toilet – it still has not been done. Also North Herts District Council – fly tipped mattress never removed and is still there.

  68. H Langley says:

    I am part of a litter group In Canterbury and try to address the appalling problem of litter in the city. However, the kent highways are quite unbelievably filthy and are never cleared. The A2 from The end of the M2 towards Dover is in a shocking state. the roundabout is full of rubbish as are the verges and these have NOT been cleared in my memory. We have made this point again and again. I even wrote to the then MP. We are told that the verges cannot be cleared without coning off the lanes and causing major traffic disruptions. I regularly drive to Holland to see my son in The Hague. The motorway verges from Calais to The Hague are almost litter free. I sometime see them being cleared with just on truck with a very large and well lit arrow drawing the attention of traffic to the litter picking. No coning off, regular attention to the roads and clean highways. This area is certainly not the only highway to be full of rubbish so clearly this is a national problem and a national disgrace, one remarked on by almost everybody I speak to. Please can something be done to stop this country becoming a filthy, uncared for place to live and visit.

  69. Michael Pease says:

    The Highways Agency and numerous local authorities are simply failing in their duty to keep the roads clear of litter. For example, all of the M60 is blighted by litter. I have asked Client Earth whether they are interested in taking the HA to court on the matter (as they have done on pollution against the Government).

  70. Frank goddard says:

    I travel some 40k miles per year and this time of year is particularly bad for litter displays. As grass is cut and or dies back the uncleared litter is revealed. At least in the summer months our country can appear somewhat litter free. A journey along the A1 will particularly disappoint and shame. This road, namely our primary international route is a disgrace. I invite any member of the HA to travel the A1 between Doncaster and Ferrybridge with a visiting foreign driver this week in particular and let me know if they feel any sense of pride,

    Regards Frank Goddard

  71. Mike Coker says:

    The amount of litter along the verges of UK roads is unbelievable. Slip roads and lay-bys are particularly bad. And when compared to the rest of Europe it is a national disgrace.

  72. Richard LJ says:

    I could provide a huge list of road route numbers that look like a fly tip site. But the M27 and A32 junction just north of Fareham is a rubbish dump. Given the abundance of traffic cameras it’s surprising that more people are not caught and prosecuted. I have just returned from a few years working in Belgium where the roads and motorways are just, if not more, heavily used, yet litter is not such an Issue. Perhaps because the Belgian authorities pursue litterers and there are police cars on the roads.

  73. The approach road to the council refuse tip in Rushden Northampton shire is absolutely awash with wind blown litter and has been for months with seemingly no effort to clean it up. Trevor Dilley.

  74. Dean says:

    Hi Peter, re, your letter to Daily Telegraph (attack on litter police). The Telegraph claim that ” a public backlash is growing over the use of private companies to hand out litter fines on behalf of councils. ” Well that is certainly not the case in my home city of Hull.www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/new-litter-wardens-coming-hull-462090

  75. Derek Gilman says:

    I must say our local (Swale) borough council (SBC) do respond promptly to local issues, issue a case reference number and report back on progress. But this overlooks the problem of the general public – or a large majority. Example: I reported heavy littering of a local rural lane. SBC contacted the local contractors (BIFFA) who were reluctant to clear the lane without a clearance of 1.20 m from moving traffic. SBC put pressure on them to resolve the issue, which involved four months of negotiations and resulted in an application to Kent County Council to close the lane for cleansing, which was finally granted. The lane remained pristine…for a couple of weeks. But the usual detritus of plastic bottles, cans and fast food cartons is now again making an appearance, which after all the time and effort, is disheartening. To recap: some local councils do try; the general public don’t give a toss. What is needed are stringent fines, a deposit/return scheme for plastic and tin cans and an awareness campaign with anti-littering signs along motorways/major trunk roads.

    • Totally agree Derek and Highways England their their publicly funded private contractors to adhere to the Environment Protection Act 1990 and a KPI for monitoring litter collect standards along motorways and a KPI for monitoring the general appearance of the motorway network ie. grass verges cut short to collect litter, hedgerows cut back so blown litter underneath can be collected easily and a KPI for clearing litter on all slip roads and central reservations. The law is clear. The legally interpretation requires ‘highways free from litter’ and must be done regardless of cost, resources and health and safety; of course authorities must provide health and safety but all of this is not a barrier to weekly and monthly litter picking on the whole network. It is about time we have a separate national organisation that deals with the soft landscaping and litter clearance for all motorways and A roads in England. It is clear that Highways England is incapable and unwilling to remove litter and maintain the appearance of the network.

      On Saturday I had the pleasure of travelling from the Tollgate Gravesend to Maidstone via the A2 and M2. The whole motorway, including the slips are heavily littered and plastic clinging to trees. The gutters have not be touched and the road detritus is shameless; that is not general maintain but neglect and the taxpayer is paying private companies for the pleasure of a non-service. Our motorways simply resemble a country that has given up, does not care about the environment or a country that doesn’t care for its’ citizens. How refreshing to go to Germany, France and Netherlands and drive along beautiful motorways that are cared for. Why is Britain so against maintaining our networks to a similar or higher standard? We have simply given up.

      Having served a litter abatement notice to Maidstone Borough Council in Kent in April of this year due to the disgraceful state of the A229 leading into Maidstone. They promised the earth and cleaned the network overnight and made a big thing about having to do the work out of hours. At the time I state that what they have stated is illegal and highlights they are balancing litter clearance with budgets. It went quiet once I stated this. On Saturday I drove passed the same area and once again, it is in a total Grade D littered state. So once again, I have served another litter abatement notice. Let’s see what excuses Maidstone Borough Council come up with this time.

  76. Rob Nowland says:

    I have been trying for years to get my local authority, London Borough of Sutton, to respond to removing leaves from our streets before they block gully grilles or decompose so much that they fill up the pots and cause flooding. I am often told the the Street Cleaners are not responsible for clearing leaves.

    I must be fair, similar to most councils, Sutton Council, have a separate annual leaf clearing program which is quite separate from everyday street cleaning, but it can be several weeks before streets are anyway cleared to proper standard, if at all, and in the meantime the rotting leaves cause flooding problems before eventual removal from the streets.

    When I have spoken to the Street Cleansing Department, it is explained that they do not regard fallen leaves and rotting leaves as their legal responsibility, since it is all to do with their interpretation of detritus under the Code of Practice for Litter and Refuse regarding leaves.
    And I too struggle to understand this definition, since in the two adjoining sentences of s5.5, there is a clear contradiction of detritus regarding leaves and it does appear they are only detritus when they have decayed so much it cannot be identified as a leaf or it is a mushy mess in the gutter or pavement, which surely was not the intention for leaves to be identified and defined in such a way.

    It is quite clear, there must be at some point before leaves become detritus under the insipid definition of the Code, but at what point do leaves become the authorities legal responsibility to remove them under s89 EPA 1990.

    Can this forum give please give me some advice on how the definition can be explained properly for authorities to live up to their duties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and indeed is there any stated court cases regarding the legal responsibilities for the removal of leaves by a local authorities or come to that, any duty body. RobN

  77. Stella Ashley says:

    I have recently emailed my MP Mr Bernard Jenkin about the disgraceful state of the A120 out of Parkeston Quay (Harwich International as it is now called) and I have just received an actual letter from him stating he has sent my ‘concerns’ to Highways England and is awaiting a response from them… Call me cynical but the response will probably not supply any satisfactory answers let alone a solution,it will just be yet another buck passing exercise. What are the sorely tried taxpayers of this country meant to do to get heard?

    • The response from Highways England will state they collect X number thousands of black sacks of litter per annum and litter picking is a dangerous exercise and they will thank you for highlight the ‘hotspot’ and will review the cleaning of the road in the future. What they will not state is that they are acting illegally, including their private maintenance company funded by the taxpayer. They will not state that the Environment Protection Act 1990 (ironically introduced by Margaret Thatcher) clearly states that highways must be kept ‘free from litter’ and the Act uses the phrase ‘where practicable’ that means it MUST be done at all times, without excuse, lack of resources and lack of budgets. The words ‘where practicable’ were used in the Act of Parliament for the very reasons that are making the whole UK litter ridden. It was drafted so there was no excuse not to keep the network litter free. What we have is Highways England and their private contractors doing their own thing, not adhering to to the law and making every excuse possible, in particular, health and safety. As long as a safe working practice has been put in place and risk assessed then litter collection should be done daily, weekly and monthly to ALL areas of the network. Did you know that Highways England has a Key Performance Indicator to monitor and protect flora and fauna yet no Key Performance Indicator for monitoring the adherence to the Environment Protection Act 1990, the frequency of litter collection, the amount of litter on the network, yet the fact roadside wildlife is killed due to litter along the motorway verges has been conveniently divorced from the KPI that exists for flora and fauna. The two go together but we know why no litter KPI exists because it means Highways England will need to resource the problem probably and above all take the litter crisis seriously.

  78. Had a wonderful journey on Saturday along the A2 from Gravesend The Tollgate to the O2 Arena. The whole journey was nothing more than a linear dustbin. The slip roads in Gravesham was piled with old uncollected litter, verges unkempt and plastic in abundance on the young trees along the A2. I cannot believe how the incumbent contractor covering Kent simply neglects the motorway network and is allowed to let the litter pile up to a Grade D- standard? What I do find offensive is the private contractor covering Kent is employed to MAINTAIN the roads. In my mind this should involve sweeping the kerb line adjacent to the hard shoulders and slip roads and keeping clear the concrete central reservations free of weeds and piles of road debris and detritus? The whole stretch of the A2 between Gravesend to the London border at Dartford is nothing more than neglect at the taxpayers expense. I cannot believe that the years of road debris along the kerb lines, concrete central reservations and the safety barriers has been left uncollected for years. The verges are overgrown throughout this stretch of the A2 (and probably beyond into Kent) allowing litter to blow, collect and then become hidden in the summer only to be exposed now. Highways England and their substandard private contractors have no pride or standards themselves and view the litter problem as somebody else’s problem and have been given the green light by the Department of Transport to flout the Environment Protection Act 1990. In other words, their neglect is illegal and should be challenged in the courts then perhaps things might change in our environment.

  79. keith says:

    Section of A30 from Blackwater to Minley Road roundabout verges a disgrace. Contractor cut grass without picking litter! Section will not be picked until next years(2018) cut! County council working in conflict with local District here and result on Roman road worse than anything they left behind.

  80. Jacqueline Taylor says:

    I was out walking this morning – I live in Bricket Wood, near St Albans – and coming out of Bricket Wood leaving Oakwood Road and walking towards the M25 slip road on the A405 footpath I can see that absolutely nothing has changed there. The wheelbarrow that I reported years ago still remains and is now accompanied by even more rubbish. In the layby where lorries park up it is of course much worse and despite the large sign indicating CCTV in operation (which I believe to be totally untrue as clearly do the offenders) the problem has become much worse. No effort whatsoever has been made to clear this rubbish.

  81. Stella Ashley says:

    I am new to your site which I found whilst trying to email Highways England concerning the state of a major road in my area, the A120 from Parkeston Quay Essex,which links up to the A12.My first thought was of relief to have found your site.
    My second thought was what a state this country is in when a private citizen has to set up a website in an effort to get the relevant bodies to do the job they are paid to do, by the taxpayers of this country. I am constantly picking up litter, even, can you believe it dirty nappies! Living in an area that has a busy port is a total nightmare. I cannot imagine what the thousands of continental visitors who enter the country via the port think of us as they drive past the growing piles of discarded litter along the verges and hedges. What a start to their holiday. Sick man of Europe is correct as another email said. But what are we to do about it as it is so obviously out of control? What can we do when none of our politicians is listening and least of all Highways England whose answers to my previous emails have been pathetic.Could you not set up a petition on 38degrees to get everyone in the country to sign? Everyone I speak to is as frustrated as myself so surely if so many feel the same we could get the ball rolling?

  82. Vincent Stops says:

    I don’t use the M11 much, but on a recent trip out of London I was very aware of a lot of road side plastic litter.

  83. Andy Slade says:

    Unfortunately the UK has lost its Civic Pride. I am of a generation who were brought up with the “Keep Britain Tidy” initiative and to see the accumulation of litter and fly tipping throughout the country is totally depressing. The comparisons with other West European countries made by many is true, we have become the dirty man of Europe. It has reached such a level it must now be a drag on the UK’s economy and tourism.
    I believe 95% of the problem is caused by 5% of the population. It is clear we are unable to effectively manage the problem through our government agencies or by our overstretched police. This 5% add to the problem mainly as they have no Civic Pride as this has never been ingrained into them and also they know the chance of being caught in the act is remote. Fly Tippers tip because it is of benefit to them financially and in time as the prosecution they may likely face if ever caught is a few hundred pounds against the cost of desposing legally.
    Until we make the risk of prosecution prohibitive to these guys the problem will just escalate.
    Last year I commented on the the roadside signs I noticed in the USA when on holiday quoting “Fine for Littering $1000”. That’s £ 700 +. It seems a deterrent over there as their roadsides seem considerably cleaner than ours. If we aren’t going to Police it properly surely increased fines must be used.
    The infrastructure around our transport hubs is a total disgrace. I use the M4 and M25 junctions local to Heathrow airport as an example. What first impressions does this give to tourists and business community arriving through Heathrow!!. Cross any urban road bridge over a railway on foot in the UK and your likely to see an accumulation of rubbish on the rail side of any boundary fence which has been there for years and possibly decades. Network Rail couldn’t care less. Unfortunately all this accumulation becomes all to more evident in the winter months with vegetation die back. However this is the time when it could be effectively removed but rarely is this opportunity taken.

    • Paul Plumb says:

      In regards to safety of the litter pickers. So the answer is do nothing and leave everywhere in a mess! Virtually every country in Europe and beyond is infinitely cleaner, tidier with significantly less litter than the UK. There is no will to want a better environment, otherwise all parties would look and find a solution. All I ever hear is excuses as to why something can’t be done.
      Paul Plumb

  84. Network Rail Track-side litter

    In my last update I pointed out that NR’s web site claims they are only responsible for cleaning the track-side for up to 100 meters from a platform. By law they are also responsible for any track-side in a built up area. They have to keep it clear of litter.

    Clifford Cotterill reports as follows:

    For huge quantities of litter and general urban detritus Network Rail could start on the line from Birmingham New Street to Lichfield. There are piles of litter and rubbish around and between the following stations: Duddeston, Aston, Gravelly Hill, Erdington, Chester Road, Wilde Green, Sutton Coldfield, Four Oaks, Butlers Lane and Blake Street.

    Can you add to his list?

  85. Frank goddard says:

    Don’t be too despondent. Silver clouds do exist. Whomever is responsible for the clean A19 from Dishforth to Middlesborough deserves a medal.

    • Frank, the A168/A19 from Dishforth ie the junction with the A1(M) right up to the the Tyne Tunnel is an HE area in its own right and is known as DBFO (AREA) 26 .

      The contractor is Autolink Concessionaires (A19) Ltd which was set up for this. In 2016 it made profits of £10.7 million on a turnover of £31.1 million. It looks as if they are well funded. Maybe that’s why they are doing such a good job.

      I will try and find out more about their cleansing strategy.

  86. Steve Hickson says:

    Last Friday I drove from Kent to Colchester using the M25 and A12. The point of this post is to express my complete horror at the state of the A12. The whole length is one huge rubbish tip; roadside verges and central reservations are strewn with litter and rubbish, lay-bys are equally rubbish strewn with un-emptied bins too numerous to mention. The drive was a completely dis-spiriting affair – it’s plain to see that the councils in charge of litter clearance have just given up. The return journey took me via the A130 and the A13 due to 90 mins delay on the M25, both these roads were equally as litter strewn. I’m not sure how we allowed our main roads to get in this state – no one seems to care, least of all the authorities who are meant to be keeping these roads clean and tidy.

    • Alice says:

      I have also done this journey a few times in the past few years and it is one of the worst I have encountered – I almost couldn’t believe what I was looking at.

    • Steve, the A12 from the M25 to Colchester is a Highways England road maintained by them apart from litter collection which bizarrely is down to each local authority en route.

      I have been campaigning for some years to get litter picking transferred to HE. so that the same contractor cuts the grass and picks up the llitter.

  87. Pam Brace says:

    We must go forwards and backwards.Forward to clearing the rubbish,stop charging lorries and vans with building rubbish ect because they dump anywhere because it costs them money to take it to the special yards.
    Government needs to step in at stopping the excess packaging and plastics which are overwhelming now and hard to dispose of.
    More people,more rubbish and more unneccessary packaging..

  88. Another fortnightly drive from Gravesend Kent to Newark Nottinghamshire completed via the A2 in North Kent, Dartford tunnel approach road, M25, M11, A14 and A1.

    A2 in North Kent, well, once again, after years of complaining and promises looks unkempt and grossly littered. All verges litter ridden, all slip roads have months of rotting litter and yet I am told that AOneUK the PRIVATE contractor funded by the TAXPAYER is working hard to remove the litter – what crap!

    Dartford tunnel approach road – neglected probably because nobody can decide or wants the responsibility for litter picking this strategic route, local council, Kent County Council or Highways England. Love the sign welcoming tourists from the north to the Garden of England.

    M25 Lakeside area – nothing to add except untouched for a year to my knowledge. Constantly heavily littered.

    M25 Lakeside to the M11 turn off – adhoc litter picking but once again not excuses for for not getting out their weekly to remove the litter and KEEP is CLEAR as the law states.

    M11 – a Highways England HOTSPOT – so where are the areas being kept clear of litter? Another sick and cynical PR exercise on behalf of the Tories via Highways England.

    A14 – well the roadworks exempts any removal of litter now but in my experience not one construction contractor ever continues with litter picking during construction yet apparently they are required to do so. Ironically, they are in a good position to fail;y or weekly litter pick because all health and safety measures are in place. So lets face it, even when the measures are in place they is no encouragement or interest from Highways England bosses to insist to the contractor to do the task of litter picking under their contractual execution.

    A1 – Huntingdon to Newark – a complete linear dustbin all nicely hidden by overgrown verges and central reservations, split responsibilities between Highways England and local councils so in the end little is done to lawfully remove litter.

    This is the Tory Britain that Theresa May and Michael Gove talk a lot about. A Britain where environmental issues are continual ignored. They talk of the anti-litter strategy yet they have the answers already; get Highways England and the taxpayer funded private contractors to do their job as law dictates and abide by the letter of the law. What May and Gove are doing is nothing more than fraudulent abuse of their powers and taxpayers’ money by allowing private companies to do what they want to do and yet profit from their lack of public service.

    • Paul says:

      Its a shame Brian that you had to start Government bashing at the end, yes we all know its budgets etc etc, however many of the Contractors have been employed on long term frameworks and their T&C’s are set within this Contract, irrespective of whichever Government is in Power. Much of what we see is a) not being enforced by HE of their contractors and b) diverting resources elsewhere.
      I regularly drive between the M50 and Newport South Wales and witness almost daily the increase in litter from HGV drivers who park in the layby’s overnight, leaving the often conveniently packaged waste in carrier bags rather than take them home.

      The leaves are coming off the trees and shortly the true filth story will be evident as it is at every time of the year. Its not just truckies and skip drivers that fill our highways and by-ways, many rural roads are a mess and in discussion with the local council I was advised that it was a H&S issue as they could not put men out into a 30mph zone without protection, whatever happened to the old Stop & Go Boards used by contractors felling trees.
      We will not I fear see any improvement in our environment until the green lobby get behind us and start their lobbying, surely the two must go hand in hand, its pollution of another sort, and when will the Highways England insist upon Truck Drivers paking off highway in dedicated lorry parks, as often seen on the Continent, I was under the impression that it was illegal to camp out alongside the road, patently not, mind you there are no Police around to stop it if it is.

      well like most of you one could go on for some time s I will leave this here.

      • Paul

        I’m not getting into an argument with you over your comments regarding ‘government bashing’ but I have been engaging closely with government and Highways England since 2004 and am well versed on government attitude. The fact is, the Tories do not value the environment and refuse to engage with the subject of litter. They refuse to get Highways England and their private contractors to stop acting illegally. I am fully aware about government frameworks, I worked for them for 32 years. When the private contractors sign up to their framework them sign up automatically to the law; the Environment Protection Act 1990. No debate, no discussion, it is the law.

  89. H Langley says:

    Here in Canterbury we have just had another Litter round table meetin for residents to try and work with the council to address the appalling litter, graffiti and fly tipping problems in the city. The last meeting was in January where a number of points were raised and some promises made. Surprise, surprise virtually nothing has happened. We were told the council can only afford 10 extra bins per year. The contract with SERCO is inadequate and apart from the city centre( which is on show to tourists) the remainder of the city , which has 40,000 students descend each academic year, is quire dreadful. It is beginning to be residents and community litter picks which are the only way to keep the city even remotely clean. See out Canterbury Grot Spot Facebook page and you will get an idea of the reality of this world heritage city!!!!!

    • Another example of a Council ignoring their statutory duty to ENSURE so far as is practicable that they KEEP their land CLEAR of litter and refuse. EPA S89(1). It say “practicable” not “reasonably practicable” so cost should not be an overriding factor.

  90. Clive Glazebrook says:

    I’ve been actively watching this surfers against sewage petition for a while now. Whist their mission is bringing back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans, i think this could have a dramatic benefit to our roadsides too. Please take a look as they are looking to present to government this week!


  91. Brian Reynolds says:

    M11 between M25 to Cambridge. Not sure which part of the M11 is the ‘hot spot’ under the government’s anti litter strategy but I am seeking the same amount of litter and the same illegality of Highways England NOT compiling with the EPA 1990. In simply terms, why ‘hot spots’ when the WHOLE Highways England network is a disgrace in terms of litter? £8 millions per year to clear litter? That’s pennies compared to the the amount of kilometres under their control. I would like to know why Highways England has a KPI for bioversity and not litter? In other words, wildlife can choke to death by having its’ head stuck in a container but this could be avoided if HE intensively litter picked its’ network weekly or daily to avoid damage to flora, fauna and the general environment. Jim O’Sullivan is a disgrace as the CEO at Highways England.

  92. John Woolmer says:

    The article on the lack of loos for lorry drivers only highlights the fact that we are a dirty country and that successive governments have failed to tackle the situation.

    I cannot condone the fact that lorry drivers use lay-byes as lavatories and leave their excrement behind…filthy! Any self-respecting driver would find a lavatory, no matter how difficult that might be.

    Pride of place would help – as would serious fines and more police activity – BUT council recycle depot charges are so punitive for commercial vehicles that fly tipping becomes almost inevitable. The government must make it far easier and far less expensive for trade waste to be legally disposed of at depots.

    At the heart of the matter lies the fact that throwing litter onto pavements and verges is now regarded by many as ‘normal’ in our throw-away culture. Failure to clear litter and detritus by HE and councils is unforgivable – especially when they have a duty to do so and are paid to do so – but the sad fact remains that irresponsible people (mostly drivers & passengers) are the real culprits in leaving our once beautiful country ankle-deep in filth.

  93. Iain Dreger says:

    Most of the trunk roads that I use in and around Sussex are chock-full of what seems to be mostly commercial-type rubbish (from refuse lorries?) while in urban areas the streets are awash with rubbish dropped by pedestrians by or thrown from vehicles, by those too lazy or thoughtless to find a bin or take it home. And once it’s there, it stays for a long time. It’s a dreadful situation that’s fast getting worse. I’ve just returned from a driving holiday in northern France and the contrast couldn’t be greater – hardly any litter on the roads, even in busy areas. The towns and villages are litter-free and look like people actually care about living in them, and clearly the authorities there have effective policies. Why can’t we learn lessons from our friends across the channel?

    • Derek Gilman says:


      You’re quite right – we have no civic pride any more. It’s all too easy to blame local councils, the Highways Agency etc but they do – in some cases, make an effort to clear up the mess. I have seen areas cleared of litter and rubbish…only to revert to their original state within a couple of weeks. It is the general public which needs educating, a scheme for cans/bottles to include in their price a returnable deposit as in other northern European countries and swingeing fines for litter and fly tipping culprits. It won’t happen…it would be deemed too dictatorial. I don’t want to sound too despondent, but this country will eventually descend into one huge rubbish tip.

  94. Terry Vickery says:

    As per my recent email, I had an issue with litter on the A12 and made an application to assist ( volunteer ) with several other litter pickers to Colchester Borough Council to clear the litter and debris, this was then passed on to the Borough health and safety officer ( will post the response at a later date ) but within a few days that section of the A12 was litter picked and has continued to this present day. As a leader for a litter picking team we regularly litter pick outside of our village envelope it seems to be the only way of keeping the amount of rubbish at bay, it also seems that if you become a visual threat to any Council system it appears to galvanise a reaction.

  95. Mark Godfrey says:

    I frequently use the A13 from Dagenham to Lakeside and for years the turn off to wennington to the Roundabout to join the M25 is full of litter , plastic bottles , tin cans large containers containing Urine obviously from Lorry drivers , the trees and bushes are full of litter , please there should be more T.V. and media coverage about keeping our country clean and tidy obviously these days the people in our once green and pleasant land do not care or give a damn about our country we should be taught at a young age to care and to keep this country clean because I witness all the time young people who just throw their litter on the floor , streets , parks etc. Even though there are many bins provided nearby ? .
    Because when I was at school it was drummed into our heads about throwing your litter in bins or taking it home with you , our parents did the same and taught us to have respect for our country and land .

  96. Brian Goodson says:

    Action needs to be taken on three fronts with regards to the tide of litter :
    1. Adopt-a-Highway : this scheme operates in the U.S. It means that organizations – clubs (Rotary, Lions etc.), schools, scouts, guides etc. or just groups of people get t0gether with the local authority to keep a designated length of road clear of litter.
    2. The use of prisoners and/or those on community service.
    3. The removal of temporary road signs, cones etc. when work has been completed. We have all seen rusting signs accompanied by their rotting sand bags along many of Britain’s roads. They are not only an eyesore but are positively dangerous and could be moved to where they are needed. In this connection, several years ago I contacted the Highways Authority to be told that this was the contractor’s responsibility. When I pointed out to it that they – the HA – were responsible for the contractors completing the work and clearing up afterwards, the silence was deafening! I even wrote on one occasion to Keep Britain Tidy as it was called at the time on this issue and they replied asking me to send a photograph to illustrate what I meant. I ask you. Little wonder we are in such a mess.

  97. David Hartley-Mitchell says:

    We travel the section of the A45 from the roundabout at Wellingborough to the off ramp to Northampton town centre on a daily basis. As every day passes the amount of litter has increased to a point we are taking a much longer yet alternative route just to avoid seeing this dreadful example of the lack of concern some people have for our countryside.
    As you rightly state on the home page of this worthwhile website the lack of responsibility of concern from the councils is shocking.
    Having just returned from a road journey of France I am ashamed at how we disregard the place we call home.

  98. Chris says:

    I have just joined the M6 J14 up to the A5 Cannock J12 following A Staffordshire Recycle Lorry, When joining the Motorway there is a sign saying please take your litter home, I just happened to join after this recycle lorry, I kept a distance because of all the plastic bags coming out of the container on the back, listening to Radio Stoke a few weeks ago saying its costing over a million pound to clean up and people are throwing rubbish out of cars, I can say I have never seen anyone throw rubbish out of the car on the motorway but the amount of rubbish that came out of this container Today I can see why it costs so much if this is occurring everyday.

    • David Basson says:

      Chris, I witnessed a similar scene a few months ago in Hampshire, took details of the vehicle, and reported it to the Environment Agency, after a long time trying to trace the correct people. They said they had “limited powers” to deal with the escape of waste from a vehicle on a public highway but nonetheless approached the operator, warned them and reminded them of their duty of care. HE deny they have powers to enforce (but we say they do have residual powers), the police will deal if they are given details and you are willing to make a statement.

  99. Craig says:

    Very disappointing to watch the RideLondon cycling event on television and to witness so many of the professional riders, in full view of the cameras, throwing their empty plastic drinks bottles over the hedges into fields and into the hedges that run adjacent the verges. And all this in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty in rural Surrey.

    This cycling event is being broadcast live on BBC1 on a Sunday afternoon, sending out completely the wrong message to people, especially children, about littering.

    Is this litter going to be located and then picked up by the organisers or the local council? I doubt it. It will remain uncollected for months, probably years.

    The organisers of this event should be prosecuted for allowing this littering to happen. If they were really serious about litter and the law, they would change the rules of the race to ensure that professional riders keep their bottles on their person or in holders on their handlebars until they came to designated collection points at which point they could lob them into big bins. The same rule would apply to all professional riders so no one would lose time by carrying the extra weight of a bottle.

    • Sally says:

      Organisers to my knowledge are Prudential, I am more than happy to write to them regarding litter.
      Is there more that can be done to get some action on a bottle deposit scheme in this country. How can I write direct to Michael Gove as this is something he has said he will consider. So many people I speak to are disgusted at the state of this countries roads and villages and like most governmental issues no-one seems to accept responsibility, God help us when we are out of Europe and do not have any of European legislation to follow as we can’t seem to follow our own legislation.

  100. David Leonard says:

    My wife and I drove from the Catthorpe junction for 15 miles eastwards on the A14 yesterday. We were disgusted by the overflowing bins and piles of rubbish in every lay-by and on the verges adjacent to them. We regularly visit France and the contrast is amazing, frequent litter pickers and teams emptying bins and cleaning lay bys are always evident. The A14 is the main route from the east coast ports to the midlands and northwest, what an example for our country!

    • Geoff Sargeant says:

      Just driven the A14 eastwards towards Huntingdon – pleasantly surprised at lack of litter around Kettering – all lay-bys had about 4 large yellow litter bins & a large sign urging people to use them – looks like it was working …! Well done to someone for some pro-activity .. at last !!

  101. Jacqueline Taylor says:

    I’ve just returned from the Calais and Boulogne areas of France and what a total contrast their roads and pavements are. Most of the villages are decorated with flower baskets, pots of flowers and hardly any litter to be seen anywhere. When returning to this country you realise just how disgusting and dirty our roadsides are. Litter is not collected anywhere near as often as it should be despite the rubbish that is published in these reports that are made. Someone, somewhere clearly is not making the rules as they should be made. This country is drowning under its rubbish.

  102. Just completed the Highways England national survey and one of the questions asked is what can Highways England do better in the short and long term. In the short term I have asked them to introduce as a matter of urgency a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for litter monitoring and collection on the basis that Highways England have one for biodiversity. I made the point that biodiversity includes flora and fauna and as such tonnes of litter left along all verges, roundabouts and slopes are killers to wildlife. It is pure hypocrisy on Highways England not to include the national litter problem affecting their network with biodiversity. A KPI for litter would mean that a standard would need to be set (even though the EPA 1990 and DEFRA guidance does this), their private contractors would be required to adhere to this KPI and as such their performance would be recorded against how clean the network under their control is. I guess this is why Highways England have resisted having a KPI for litter for decades.

    • David Basson says:

      Excellent idea Brian, a KPI is essential. In my experience around my area of M27 in Hants there has been an improvement in contractor litter collection, I have regularly emailed HE litter contractors in Area 4, being specific about locations of “accumulations of litter” which is the buzz expression.
      The use of CCTV signage in relation to litter does appear to have made some difference here, (J12 to J8). Keep up the pressure!

  103. Jacqueline Taylor says:

    I frequently use the Watford Berrygrove roundabout driving up the slip road on to the roundabout from the Watford by-pass. The rubbish throw out of vehicles onto the right hand side verge is absolutely disgusting. To my knowledge this has not been touched for many months.

  104. Abul Nasir says:

    I want to name a flytipping hotspot in my area opposite Lister Community School E13 Plaistow just alon St Marys Road and corner off Eastern Road. Its degaussing area sore for the eyes and inhabited, its part of the highway agency never been taken in account people leave all sorts of things there rodents everywhere smell is unbearable. I urge you take a second look at this site my suggestion is make in to open plan with greenery with view of people can admire instead dipping rubbish into it. I’ve been living in the area for over 20 years it has always had this problem it is time to make a change in Plaistow East London, please I’m beg you to take this statement serious because its getting worse. Thank you.

  105. Sajan says:

    I travel the A38 regularly , from Derby to sheffield … so much mess on lay- bys which are very terrible, it distracts me when I see all
    Exit and entry on slip road especially from the Firdern junction on A38. I have complaint many time to derby city council for Findern roundabout is heavily littering around verged and traffic sigh are hidden behind the bushes. PLEASE LOOK AFTER 🇬🇧


  106. Sally says:

    I have recently returned from a walking holiday in north Wales which was quite litter free, what joy.

    Driving through a village in Anglesea one morning what a shock to find someone from the council cleaning the streets, I stopped and told him how clean everywhere was and what a welcome sight he would be in England. Thanked him and we parted with waves and smiles!

  107. I have been given the email address of the Network Steward from Highways England. His name is Wayne Moore and his email address is wayne.moore@highwaysengland.co.uk

    I assume that this person has the title and the same level of Highways England spin regarding litter but emailing him will at least get your complaint logged. At the same time copy info@highwaysengland.gov.uk and jim.o’sullivan@highwaysengland.co.uk The two latter email address are the Highways England HQ in Birmingham and the Chief Executive of Highways England who never responds in person but at least your complaint is logged. I always copy my MP Adam Holloway, Conservative for Gravesham who no longer responds to any of my emails so that demonstrates the level of concern from this Tory government.

    Keep hammering away and perhaps in years to come we may have a clean highway operated by a responsible and accountable government body that is heavily funded by the taxpayer

  108. Graham says:

    I have been trying to get the A27 swept between LYONS FM worthing & Shoreham holmbush for the last 7 years …since ADUR DISTRICT COUNCIL HAVE been responsible its now a disgrace..it has to be the filthiest road in great Britain. ..SHAME ON YOU ADUR DISTRICT COUNCIL…

  109. Mark Godfrey says:

    Please can anyone tell me why our country and the people who live here so complacent about and just do not care about this once beautiful country ? I travel all over the UK and our streets , Roads , and especially our Motorways are full of Litter and Rubbish and other countries which I have visited especially France are so clean and litter free ? We need to show our LITTER and RUBBISH in the worst areas of our country to the public with photos , videos , T.V. and especially the media name and shame people and councils , and everyone responsible for Littering and just not caring for the places that we all live in and to have more responsibility for their actions by fines , photos of the perpetrators , using the internet by naming and shaming them .
    We all must try and tackle this huge problem here in the UK and push the Government to help more by more laws and prosecutions to offenders and more advertising on television , cinema’s , signs , adverts , using the papers more etc.
    We must get the messages out there a lot more to KEEP BRITAIN TIDY

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      Many of us have been campaigning and lobbying government for years ; in my case since 2004 and there is complete deflection and denial. Even now the so called National Anti Litter Strategy is a document of air and not one mention of the Environment Protection Act 1990 and getting Highways England to produce a KPI for litter standards, adherence or enforcement of their private contractors to perform. Network Rail is the same, dirty standards. As for a national campaign don’t hold your breath! I’m waiting to see if this government will introduce the deposit system on plastic bottles and cans. This would aid the litter campaign and help clean the network up and start the public thinking about litter. This government is trying it’s hardest to make excuses not to do it yet the rest of Northern Europe has had one for decades! And this is the self governing post Brexit UK this government wants? They can’t even deal with litter!

    • Derek Gilman says:

      Agree entirely. We live in a ‘couldn’t care less throw away society’. Even the bodies responsible (Highways England, Local Authorities) seem uninterested (with a few exceptions – my local authority always makes an effort to respond!). On a national level, it is disheartening to see all the detritus left behind after road works have long been been completed: road works signage structures/frames, sand-bags, cones etc. Our road sign system is a disgrace – many signs are filthy/illegible, twisted, disfigured, facing the wrong way or completely hidden by shrubbery – and no one seems to care. And as for the litter…according to Highways England, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I would ask how many of these officials actually get out and about to see the litter strewn roads/motorways. The threat of a Litter Abatement Order does seem to galvanise official bodies into action (see previous correspondence). On a local level, I find litter picking can be quite satisfying and can result in others joining in…I have been approached a couple of times by people recognising the problem and saying that they also pick up litter locally.

      • Derek

        I am still keeping the pressure on Maidstone Borough Council regarding the bottom of the A229 Blue Bell. I had to remind them yet again the law states ‘as is practicable’ meaning cleaning regardless of resources, money, traffic management being a issue. They have confirmed that they all these issues do not stop they from regular litter picking yet at the same time stated that parts of the A229 are cleaned every 6 months! I wait back to them and stated that for the category of road, six months is unacceptable and litter accumulates at these locations within weeks and if not cleared then this condition does not meet the wording in the Act of Parliament of maintaining a highway free of litter.

        It is this that the general public need to become savvy with and challenge local authorities and Highways England. Even the new Anti-Litter Strategy does not mention the EPA 1990 (the law) and it mentions that the DEFRA cleaning standards need revising. No! It needs Highways England to have a KPI for litter and have an independent body monitoring their performance on litter clearance and likewise with local authorities. I find it inconceivable that Highways England has a KPI for Biodiversity (protecting and enhancing natural habitats) yet nothing for litter. Therefore, it is acceptable for piles of old litter to be deposited and remain on verges and embankments only to become a danger to wildlife; plastic bottles whereby mice get trapped, broken glass so wildlife can cut themselves, plastic sheeting being eaten by young birds. I could go on but yet Highways England choose to separate litter and biodiversity and deliberately ignore their legal obligations and happily for them they are getting away with it. Now we are in the summer period and the litter is hidden, the must be so happy.

  110. Just back from a week in Haute Savoie in France. Every motorway and street was 99% litter free. Recycling bins all immaculate.

  111. Apologises in advance for what I am about to write but it sums up just how contemptuous Highways England their private contractor (funded by us the taxpayer) are towards the public.

    I have complained to Highways England and AOneUK Area 4 covering Kent about the amount of graffiti on the bridge abutments between Dartford to Faversham in Kent on the A2 and M2. Where I live in Gravesham I reported 3 months ago the offensive graffiti sprayed onto the bridge abutment near to where I live that reads ‘F**k You 2017’. Under Highways England’s own rules all offensive graffiti must be removed within days of reporting. Has this been removed? No. What an impressive this graffiti gives to tourists coming from the continent. How much does a pot of paint cost to remove this graffiti? Shameful bunch of incompetence.


    Thank you, Brian, for your encouraging reply. I’ll continue with this dispute, and, I trust, get there in the end!


    I’ve been compiling evidence of litter on a recreation area near my home (in Newcastle Upon Tyne) for four months. Over this time, I’ve emailed the council about the state of this area four or five times, to no avail. When emailing, I was unable to keep a copy for my records as I had to use their form to contact them, so I’ve asked their data protection office for a copy of our correspondence since early January, and have been told that this will take up to 40 days to complete.
    I wonder if this amount of time is normal for such a procedure? I suspect the Council of delaying tactics.
    I’ve also asked another department for their cleaning records for my area over the last six months (as advised by the Litter Abatement Order website) and they quickly replied when they assumed I was asking about a premises. When I wrote that I was interested in street cleaning, they went, and remained, silent.
    I feel very alone with this project. I can’t stand litter and the despoiling of nature, but most people seem to moan about it but do nothing else. One or two have phoned the Council, received an assurance that the area would be cleaned, but it hasn’t been. I don’t think this area has been properly cleared in the five years I’ve lived nearby. I want to take legal action to ensure that it is done, now and in the future, but it’s hard, and lonely.

    • They should treat your requests as freedom of info ones and respond in 20 working days. Write and say they that as the both requests are for environmental information they are subject to the Environmental Information Regulations and should be dealt with within the statutory 20 working day time period.

      When making info requests in future use https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ and then its all on the public record.

      I suggest you focus on the park. Keep photo records showing the general state but also specific areas to show how long litter is left in situ.

      Without sending the photos to them write and point out politely that they are not keeping it clean.

      If they do not respond you can issue them with an Environmental Protection Act S91 WARNING LETTER giving them 5 days to clean it up or face a court action..

      If that does not have the desired effect you could go to court BUT there are risks involved.

      There is lots on the Clean Highways web site about this. I would also be happy to advise on drafting the communications etc

      Elizabeth, you are not alone


      • Brian Reynolds says:

        Hello Elizabeth

        You are certainly not alone with the chronic litter issue in the UK. I give my local authority in Kent no excuse and issue a warning notice straightaway. Local councils and Highways England use budget and health and safety as excuses but the law requires public areas to be litter free within the cleaning guidelines from DEFRA. Normally the warning notice is enough to get action but if not keep stating that the Environment Protection Act 1990 is the law and the words ‘as is practicable’ means litter removal with all measures and risk assessments and regardless of budget being available. In others words, do your job and remove litter and keep it clean for the future. The authorities are banking on the public being ignorant of the law but we know better now.

        • ELIZABETH HAYNES says:

          Thank you Brian for your encouraging reply. My battle with the Council feels a bit less difficult now, with the support on the site!

      • ELIZABETH HAYNES says:

        Thanks Peter. I have been studying your site and have taken advice from it. I have lots of photographic evidence, both of the general mess and of specific areas. I first complained to the Council in February 2016 and the street manager came out to view it. He made lots of encouraging noises but did nothing and then he was transferred and I got cancer, so shelved the whole thing till Jan 2017.
        On 13/1 I complained to the Council about the site, and, in addition, about two full bin bags of rubbish which had been dumped there (it’s always happening, along with illegal motor biking). They said they’d ‘assess the job within 15 working days’, but there’s no evidence that they did. They eventually took one rubbish bag away in early March. The other had been, by that time, thrown over the fence. I contacted the highways agency but my mail wasn’t even acknowledged, and the bag remains on the A1 verge.
        I complained about the state of the area several times over the next few months, politely, but eventually threatening legal action. (These are the emails I’m awaiting a copy of). These mails were not acknowledged or replied to. On 18/4 I wrote to the Chief Executive, sent it first class signed for, giving five days’ formal notice of court action, but haven’t had a reply.
        I can’t bear seeing all the rubbish on this potentially pleasant walking area, and I can’t bear the indifference – or worse – of the Council.
        I’m intending to apply for a LAO. I can’t see any alternative. I know it’ll cost money, but what are the risks you mention? For instance, might the Chief Executive say she didn’t receive my letter? If so, perhaps I should write again.
        Thanks again for your encouragement and advice.

        • Elizabeth, I am away for all of next week. I suggest we talk on the phone about the risks associated with an application for a Litter Abatement Order. I am on 01895 625770

  114. Highways England Area 4 Private Contractor Called AOneUK

    Been corresponding with AOneUK the private contractor (funded by the taxpayer) that covers maintenance services for Kent and Sussex but to no real avail. When you send an email to then the standard acknowledgement goes something along the lines of ‘your inquiry is important to us and we will reply as soon as possible’. To date I have never received a response as to why they as acting illegally and misintrepreting the Environment Protection Act 1990 and only adhoc litter picking to suit a budget. The law states ‘as is practicable’ meaning removing litter to all locations to achieve a litter free highway without funds be a consideration. If the law stated ‘as is RESEASONABLY’ practicable then funds would be a consideration before litter picking could be implemented. Therefore, I asked the question and to date have been ignored by AOneUK and Highways England.

    I went further and asked a separate question of AOneUK and Highways England as to how much budget was allocated this financial year for Area 4 for litter picking, the number of kilometres of the network covered under Area 4 and how many dedicated teams of litter picking operatives are employed. To date no reply. What a surprise and it says it all about Highways England and their private contractor being contemptuous towards the public and more importantly towards the deliberate and evasive manner they both flout the Environment Protection Act 1990. What is concerning is that ministers at the Department of Transport must know this is happening and it is supported at that level.

    Litter is a national UK crisis and will get worse because of no government leadership but it is within the realms of Highways England to change behaviour and take litter seriously and remove litter on a weekly basis on all motorways and A roads and to all locations without excuse, distraction, buck passing and blaming others.

  115. Linda Eziquiel says:

    The verge of the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach Road from the Sun in Sands roundabout onwards is filthy with litter and looks disgusting, due to accumulated dirt and general debris – it’s been getting steadily worse for years. Leaving London on on the A2/M2 through Kent is also a great disapointment for the same reason.

    • Chris says:

      Linda, I totally agree. I have lived in the area now for around three years and I can’t remember it being so bad when we first moved here. I have literally just driven down the A102 at the Sun in the Sands roundabout and was disgusted to see the amount of litter and debris at the side of the road. I spotted several dumped mattresses, black bin bags of rubbish and bits of cars / lorries such as tyres. Instead of spending money erecting new electronic advertising boards on the roundabout, maybe the money would be better spent removing the litter? Actually, put the new advertising boards to good use and tell people to stop throwing their rubbish out of their vehicle windows and have some respect for our environment.

  116. Jason Melham says:

    I live parallel to the A34 near Tothill Services. Surprisingly the traffic noise is not a problem, however the constant littering is!
    Our house is situated just off the old A34 slightly south of Tothill and sadly there is a Parking Layby on the main A34 adjacent to our house.
    Disputes several phone calls to the council and the highways agency no one ever appears to firstly remove all the mass of litter, empty the poor attangement of bins on a regular basis or consider and additional larger bins to reduce the lazy and annoying litter bugs we have.
    Please help!

  117. Andrew Mellonie says:

    I can’t stand driving anymore. So depressing to see that this is a massive issue everywhere. I travel all over the world and often tô developing countries. Rarely I see littering worse than here in the U.K. Yesterday I was in Peterborough . The A47 is a disgrace! Even the town around the station is dreadful. Why would any tourist come to the UK?

    • I am the same. All my precious holidays and mini breaks are now in Germany, France and the Netherlands. I refuse to drive through what are national linear dustbins.

  118. P. England says:

    We travelled approx 10 miles along the A14 today, in an easterly direction from the M1 Catthorpe interchange. There was an unbelievable amount of litter – some of the worst we have ever seen on any UK motorway – paper litter, glass and plastic bottles, assorted plastic rubbish. To begin with, we thought it might just be an isolated area near to the major interchange that hadn’t been cleared, but the problem continued all along the roadside for the 10 miles or so we were on this road, absolutely disgusting. I’m amazed that the amount of glass littering the verges hasn’t resulted in a roadside fire in this time of very low rainfall. Surely this is a potential hazard to motorists?

  119. Craig says:

    The verges of the M1 (junctions 9 to 10), close to Luton, are badly littered in both directions.

    I have been driving up and down this particular section of motorway regularly since the summer of 2016 and it looks as if it is never cleaned. It’s a disgrace.

    Highways England is aware of this website and therefore must surely be aware of the prominent ‘Have Your Say’ section where this comment and the hundreds of others have been posted. Yet it doesn’t show the basic courtesy of responding to any of these concerns.

    Public relations, as defined by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, is “the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics”. On that basis, with regard to motorway litter, Highways England has failed through a total lack of engagement with its publics.

    Someone in the Highways England in-house public-relations department will be monitoring these comments and yet there is never any corporate acknowledgement that there is a litter problem on the motorway network. In this way, the big issue of the illegality of Highways England not clearing the verges of litter is, conveniently, never addressed.

    Can I suggest, therefore, that one way of getting Highways England to engage with its publics would be for each of us to get the local press involved when we see a significant section of highway blighted by litter? That way, the Highways England press office, which is the corporate voice of the organisation, will be nudged into making a statement.

    If you travel along a section of road or motorway that is constantly littered, please look up the contact details of the local newspaper that covers the area and make them aware of the problem. Articles on litter do appear in the regional press from time to time and so there is an appetite for these stories. Unlike many other countries, ours is blessed with a large number of local newspapers. Articles that feature in the local press are routinely picked up and ‘run with’ by the national newspapers.

    You may want to tell the local newspaper, for example, that the litter:

    1. brings the area down

    2. that it’s a bad advert for their area

    3. that it’s costing jobs (see Peter Silverman’s post on his Twitter feed from 9 March in which a group of US tour operators has declared that it is withdrawing from the UK because of the appalling quantities of roadside litter)

    4. that the relevant bodies responsible for litter-picking are breaking the law if they do not ensure that their highways are kept free of rubbish regardless of cost.

    5. If possible, include a photo – a photo is worth a thousand words!

    6. Tell them how the the litter affects you personally.

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      I have and will continue to highlight the illegal and fraudulent abuse of Highways England ignore the law but what I would like to happen is for a national conference convened that includes all on this site and anybody else who wants to attend and have Jim O’Sullivan CEO of Highways England and MPs and other officials in government sit and take the flack from the public and publicly broadcast on the BBC. It’s time for Highways England to stop playing their silly fraudulent games and change their deep seated bad attitude towards litter or face the public. Government agency department totally unaccountable to the public and fed public funds from a government that allows knowingly that Highways England are acting illegally.

      • Craig says:


        I applaud your vision and would be delighted to help you organise a national conference but the problem would be actually getting Jim O’Sullivan, CEO Highways England, and those in the executive arm of government, to turn up to it!

        It just isn’t in their interests to put themselves in a position in which they would be shown publicly to have done a bad job.

        They would have to be forced to attend and, ultimately, only the law (aided by enforcement) can force anyone to do anything in this country.

        We do have the law on our side, of course, but it only addresses localised littering by allowing individuals to apply for one-off Litter Abatement Orders and does not touch the underlying systemic problems of, for example, not having an independent ‘watchdog’ to monitor, and hold to account, Highways England.

        So…does anyone know if Highways England, as a corporate body, can be prosecuted? The directors of any company or corporation are always legally responsible for their actions so surely, in theory, this should be possible.

        Beyond corporate prosecution, having Jim O’Sullivan face the music at a House of Commons Select Committee might be the best way to ‘encourage’ him to face his critics. However, I don’t believe that even select committees have the power to force anyone to attend their meetings.

        • Craig

          I agree with you and I was making the point when I was in the world of fantasy today. I am hopeful that the litter crisis nationally has now reached the point where more and more of the nation are noticing and complaining and the issue will get onto the political agenda and I mean a proper agenda where proper practical action is needed and demanded instead of the ‘hot air vacuum’ called the National Anti Litter Strategy that is mainly a buck passing document and a vision. I have had a vision since 2004, that of a clean UK with high profile national education and publicity, making littering anti social, a schools programme especially for teenagers, proper permanent anti-littering signage at all major motorway junctions with cameras and tougher laws on fast food and food on the go and above all, instilling into all public bodies and railway operators, Network Rail and Highways England that the law is clear in terms of ‘litter free’ and involves removing litter WITHOUT funding being a consideration. Everbody argues that litter should not be dropped and I accept this but at the same time we have UK laws, made by a UK government that requires litter free highways in ALL locations and not simply in the easy parts that do not need traffic managing, coning and other health and safety measures. We all know that Highways England and their private contractors are using every trick in the book not to litter pick and set their own standards which is not even a standard. I met Simon Dukes from the then Highways Agency in 2005 covering Area 4 and he specifically told me that areas such as slip roads and central reservations are not regularly litter picked because the traffic management costs too much per kilometre. When challenged about this I was told that traffic management causes delays to traffic and affects the performance targets for free travel at Highways England. So they have targets for traffic flow but nothing for litter clearance and cleanliness standards even though the DEFRA guidance standards exist and are frequently quoted when a complaint is made but not implemented. In fact, Highways England have stopped quoting DEFRA to me because I have stated that I am only interested in the word of the law and compliance and not a guidance document that has no legal standing.

          The government always quotes DEFRA first and the law second and seem to think that the DEFRA guidance needs reviewing. No, what needs reviewing is the illegality of Highways England and their publicly funded private contractors both for non performance.

          The best method of seeking a determination regarding the illegality of Highways England would be through a judicial review but this is expensive. Being an ex-civil servant I do know that no government department wants a judicial review because they tend to be embarrassing for them as in many case they go against the government. This action would at least publicly highlight the high level mismanagement within Highways England, the determination of the government ministers and the CEO to deliberately deceive the public over litter and the non performance to keep all highways litter free.

          It amazes me the lengths of denial and buck passing central government are doing to not properly address the practical measures for clearing litter in the UK. Strange how Area 4 covering Kent and Sussex have refused twice to give me the budget allocated to litter clearance per year in the area and the amount of kilometres of network that requires clearance under law.

          And that sums up the level of deception and entrenched attitude throughout the World of Highways England.

          • Craig says:


            I concur with you that a judicial review is what is needed but, as you indicate, the likely cost of many thousands of pounds would be prohibitive for most people, myself included.

            I believe there is another way, though:

            With reference to Peter Silverman’s excellent e-mail of September 2016 to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) in which he demonstrated that the ORR is in breach of its duty to monitor Highways England’s compliance with EPA S89 (http://www.cleanhighways.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ORR-meeting-14_09_16.pdf), it seems to me that making a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman would be the best way forward. It would also be free of charge.

            Here is some useful information that I have lifted (from Wikipedia, no less) about the role of this particular ombudsman:

            ‘The [Parliamentary and Health Service] Ombudsman may investigate the administrative actions of a Government department or a public authority after a Member of Parliament has referred a complaint by a member of public who claims to have suffered injustice as a result of maladministration…or service failure.

            ‘The Ombudsman possesses wide powers of investigation and is able to determine the procedure for the investigation and to obtain information from such people as required. In respect of the gathering of evidence and the examination of witnesses, the Ombudsman has the same authority as the High Court. Defiance of these powers can be treated as contempt of court.

            ‘If the Ombudsman finds that there has been injustice caused by maladministration or a failure in service, a remedy to put things right can be proposed. This can include an apology, a compensation payment for hardship or injustice and compensation for financial loss. Although the Ombudsman does not possess the power to compel a public authority to adhere to its findings, in practice, the public authority will comply. In 2010–11, more than 99% of the individual recommendations for remedy made by the Ombudsman were accepted by the body complained about.

            ‘In rare instances where the body complained about does not accept the Ombudsman’s findings, the Ombudsman may lay a report before Parliament explaining that the injustice done to the complainant has not been, or will not likely to be, remedied. In such an event, the Select Committee that oversees the work of the Ombudsman is able to examine the matter and reach its own conclusions.

            ‘Reports issued by the Ombudsman are susceptible to judicial review by the courts. However, it has been held that the court would not readily interfere with the exercise of the Ombudsman’s discretion.’

    • Andrew Mellonie says:

      I’ve contacted Rutland County Council regarding their stretch of the A1 . It’s appalling and never cleared. Lay-bys are not cleared despite what they say. Neither are slip roads. I copy my local MP and press and they just aren’t interested.

  120. Michael Tannert says:

    I have just driven on the A38 between the Little Eaton island and the Ripley turn off and there is a settee on the side of the road that has been there for at least 3 weeks! What sort of impression does this leave on visitors coming to the Peak District?

  121. trevor dilley says:

    In Northamptonshire the main pollution is road repair furniture left by the road authority s contractors ?especially the A45..it beggars belief that it doesn’t seem to matter to the people responsible.

    • Alan Robinson says:

      On a lighter note, over the last 12 months, when out litter picking on the A82, my plastic bags occasionly contain a few items that can be of further use. I have an ample supply of leather gloves, tossed out by drivers of log lorries, assorted wheel trims (a good sign that the road is full of potholes), a brand new bicycle tube, road atlas of Scotland (Lands End to John ‘O’ Groats cyclists pass frequently) a charity box that had been broken into, flower tubs and road cones, which are carried separately in my wheel barrow. The road cones (I’ll let you into a secret), make ideal mudguards for mountain bikes, if you don’t mind the colour, and plectrums for strumming a guitar. And when picking up confectionary wrapping papers folded in a little bows I tend to think that the tossers are of the female variety.

      • Derek Gilman says:

        Perhaps there is money to be made here? All we need is a few ‘Steptoe’ type entrepreneurs to take matters forward and hey presto – problem solved! Wish you well with your recycling!

  122. Paul McMaster says:

    Litteraction Website seems highly commendable and would help satisfy my litter anxiety, but surely this justs plays into the hands of the rightful street cleaners allowing them to abrogate their responsibility when a harder line action is required to make them accountable

    • Brian Reynolds says:

      Write to your MP and the rest of the top highways officials and see the response! Highways England is acting contrary to the law and putting budget before cleaning and blaming the public. I have hit them all constantly with this and yet water off a ducks back, even from my MP Adam Holloway for Gravesham. Unfortunately the UK is not interested in a litter free motorway network and this government is certainly not going to fund such trivia.

  123. Derek Gilman says:

    Although out of my area (Kent), travelled down the A133/A12 recently from north of Colchester to the M25. Some stretches of the A12 were almost pristine, but were interspersed by stretches which were appalling. This is a Highways England managed trunk road. Why the inconsistency? Can the whole route not be cleared on a continuing rolling basis – giving an overall clean appearance, rather than a piecemeal clean/filthy/clean look? Is there no joined up thinking here?? Yet another route (like the A2/A20/M20 from the Channel ports, which give overseas visitors their first impression of filthy England!

  124. Julia Morgan says:

    Interestingly, no litter on the 6 Toll Road the other day (Easter 2017)!

  125. DAVID GORDON says:

    Hi, website moderators etc, Can we have a page for people (unpaid) who actually pick litter on a regular basis, ie weekly. It would be interesting to network up together on this.

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      There is a website called Litteraction. It has hundreds of national volunteer groups now throughout England. Some are even risking life and limb litter picking A roads and motorways now. Quite damning on Highways England the government but I guess this is what this incompetent administration wants. Free labour.

    • Derek Gilman says:

      Good idea! This would work for local litter picking initiatives (although Litteraction seem to cater for this). I think major trunk roads and motorways might be more problematic.

    • Brian Reynolds says:

      I have seen on the internet that many States in the US have a system whereby locals Adopt a Road. There are roads signs stating that the road is adopted for litter picking and volunteers go out and clean up. Here we have private contractors employed by Highways England to do this role at the cost to the taxpayer. The current term contracts throughout England are very lucrative to them. I think the new contract covering Kent and Sussex Area 4 is in the region of £600m yet we still have a regionally network that is filthy and barely meets any standard. Reason? The contractor is not monitored by Highways England and Highways England has no national Key Performance Indicators for clearing litter and keeping the national and local network free of litter. Instead they do not clear the network and let it build to Grade D- and blame the public and the litter crisis and gives the impression to the nation that they (Highways England and private contractors) are pulling all the stops out to remove litter. Very cynical from a nation government agency funded by the taxpayer and above all they are all acting illegally by deliberately flouting the word of the Environment Protection Act 1990. A UK law passed by a UK government and ignored by their own government department.

    • George Monck says:

      Dear David

      Peter Silverman asked me to reply to your query about a page for people (unpaid) who actually pick litter on a regular basis. Our http://www.litteraction.org.uk website does just that. Do please have a look.

      All the best.

      George (CleanupUK)

  126. Paul McMaster says:

    All of the comments below are excellent grist to the mill, however it’s not getting anything done. I too have been out and cleared my local lanes but I can’t clear up the whole County and some. In fact t there are some roads that make me truly anxious when driving along them.
    I have just witnessed a carrier bag full of rubbish, blitzed into a thousand pieces because the lazy moron on the mower thought it to difficult to get off to pick it up, thereby adding to my anxiety and creating an eyesore into the bargain.
    Are truck drivers allowed to camp out overnight in their cabs,I thought it was illegal.
    The M48 lay-by at Chepstow is a regular jaunt for overnight truckers, and a week after a clean up, it looks like a rubbish tip, with carrier bags, clothing and general litter all over the place, and where are the cameras, Police or anyone in authority. The police and councils are just not interested.
    I am also amazed at Council leaders out members, are they blind to all of this, you would think they would want this cleared up to present their borough/district to best effect, patently they to have little pride in their area.
    What are we to do?????

    • Anne J. says:

      “I don’t know” is the answer.
      I agree – one can only do so much locally, without risking life and limb.
      Two weeks ago I cleared a local field gateway, and got 10 empty vodka bottles. A week later there were 8 empty cans of beer and (strangely!) an unopened 4-pack of cider. Lots of other items as well. It just keeps on coming, like some rampant disease.

      Like you, I find roadside litter totally distracting, and I wonder how many accidents and near-misses occur as driver attention migrates to the verges rather than the road ahead.

  127. Sally says:

    A friend recently collected her Aunt from the airport, the first comment her Aunt made, what is this about the Uk being strewn with litter everywhere it has been on the news so much in Germany. They set off from the airport and very soon they saw litter along the roadsides, overflowing bins etc , no fake news in the German press just the sad truth that England has become a filthy country.

    With an election looming is there no way we can lobby to get this country cleaned up?

    • Brian Reynolds says:

      Unfortunately not! I’ve been lobbying since 2004 locally and nationally and the governments in the UK are in denial and care less for the environment and the litter problem. My German friends have the same response to your friend, a country that is filthy dirty. Typical German response ‘what is the problem with your government? Here in Germany it would be dealt with’

      Here in the UK our strategy is clean it yourself and Clean for the Queen. Dumb nation!

      • DAVID GORDON says:

        Strangely enough, when we went through Germany about 4 years ago on the autobahns, I was amazed at the amount of litter on the verges (yes could even see it travelling at 100mph) I thought the Germans would be different, apparently not so it must be an urban myth.

  128. Alan Robinson says:

    I’m a volunteer litter picker over a mile stretch of the A82 trunk road where I live just outside Spean Bridge in Scotland. It is mainly a straight fast stretch of road, 60mph and mainly wide verges, and it needs litter picking once a week to keep it tidy. I’m doing my bit for the local community, and being keen hill walker, in my late sixties, the exercise and fresh air by the roadside is mainly enjoyable. From my experience the main culprits for tossing litter out of vehicles are local to the area, sometimes coming across delivery notes for materials and receipts for purchases by debit/credit cards used at local builders merchants and take-aways. I phone people if there information/name is on the litter and let them know that they are causing a danger to the people who collect it. Animals, especially deer, can smell the fresh left overs of a take-away a mile away. When you regularly collect litter then it is usually ‘fresh’ and therefore I often wonder whether there is sufficient evidence to get a prosecution, especially when finding a receipt with the packaging. And this leaves me thinking that if everyone over the age of 16 had to have an ID card with DNA/finger print informaiton, would it discourage littering? Common sense tells me that litter picking on trunk roads should be transferred to Transport Scotland’s regional contractors who also undertake grass cuttng. And when a slow moving vehicle with flashing lights, a keep right arrow at the rear and signs saying “Sorry for the delay, workmen picking up litter.” In time, would the penny drop on the culprits causing the inconvenience?

    • DAVID GORDON says:

      We need to get together on this, I think we need a separate page for people who actually go out and pick it up and we can share stories etc This is the good example of going out twice a week and dealing with it personally….again, if enough people go and do this, it will make the offenders feel guilty.

  129. Andy Slade says:

    With reference to Peter Silverman’s latest addition on the 21st April. It is the British disease and it has contaminated the thinking of central, local government and their agencies. They are just buck passing the problem from one to another to protect their own budgets and resources.

    If they are not blaming lack of money and resources they blame health & safety legislation linked to Chapter 8 Traffic Management. It’s alright to walk and cycle on the edge of our road networks but because you are in contracted employment it then becomes too dangerous to walk grass verges protected by hard shoulders on our motorways or on a great majority of road verges where there is sufficient safety margin against traffic with suitable PPE. Somebody needs to get a grip and do a sensible risk assessment on the risks associated with sensible managed litter collection on our road networks with mobile protecting vehicles or nighttime working or the country is going to be submerged in a layer of litter with all the negative impact on tourism and inward investment into the country.

    I urge everybody to raise this issue whenever possible with their prospective members of parliament in the next few weeks.

    • Andy

      What Highways England, their contractors (funded by us the taxpayer) are doing is acting illegally and ignoring the words of the Environment Protection Act 1990. In the act it states ‘as is practicable’ and NOT ‘as reasonably practicable’; the latter meaning that resources and funds are required to litter pick.

      All areas of the highways at all times can and should be litter picked as long as full risk assessment take place, traffic management put in place where necessary. This solves the health and safety barrier/excuse Highways England constantly use. I have witnessed the the Area 4 contractors for Kent litter pick the verge adjacent to the hard shoulder and only pick large items and leave the small items. The private contractors are protected by the poor high level management of Highways England. Litter has never been a priority with them, there are no KPI’s and no standards of cleaning or any independent body monitoring Highways England and their private contractors so they do what they want.

      I have repeated the concern to my MP Adam Holloway, Gravesham and all the top management and Area 4 private contractors that the law and the interpretation is being distorted to suit budgets and not as it was intended when introduced in 1990. Since I have done this, all concerned have retreated and refuse to give me a definitive answer. Basically, Highways England and their contractors are using large sums of taxpayers money and stating they are litter picking but it is a nationally crisis problem but in reality they are simply allowing the network to degrade to beyond Grade D and keep it at that level and blame the public.

      If I had the funds I would seek a Judicial Review against Highways England and their failure to properly interpret the Environment Protection Act 1990 and meet the obligation of providing ‘litter free’ highways.

      The contemptuous nature of the replies that the public receive when they make complaints to Highways England about the network being heavily littered is nothing more that bordering on fraudulent abuse of their powers as a central government body.

      I agree, if the nation demonstrated about their country being turned into a dustbin and having public bodies that refuse to fund and act legally then the tide of attitude and arrogance from Highways England the Government would perhaps changed.

      It fills me with fear and dread what state the network will be in 2020-21 when we leave the EU and funds become even more limited.

  130. Mark Godfrey says:

    It was such a lovely day on bank holiday Monday , we decided to go out for a nice drive through Ongar , Epping , down to Broxbourne Hertfordshire , Nazing , and finally stopped off at Dobbs weir a stunningly beautiful place obviously spoilt by litter and Rubbish strewn everywhere , in gutters , grass verges , pavements and bushes .
    This area was a place of outstanding beauty which should be loved by everyone who visits the area and course when I see litter I can not help it , I have to pick the litter up and dispose the it in the nearest bin .
    While we were in the procedure of doing this a council Litter picker arrived and we started to talk to him and he told us that people and the general public just do not care anymore and in fact moan at him for not doing his job ! .
    He told us he is just so Fed up of living here in the UK and is moving to France because he was retiring soon , he said our country was the dirtiest most filthy place in Europe and the people living here have no care or responsibility any longer for our once beautiful country .
    We need to get the message more out there with signs , posters , advertising on T.V. , newspapers , magazines etc. Keep Britain tidy and to take your litter home with you , and to fine drivers ,cars , lorries , public transport from throwing litter out of their windows etc.
    Because every little helps to keep our beautiful country clean and litter free , other countries in Europe and elsewhere are so much cleaner then ours .

  131. DAVID GORDON says:

    It seems most people are missing the point I think re whose job it is to clear it up.
    We do weekly litterpicks around the village and adjoining A roads. We do this of our own volition, no funding, no grants no organisation – we do not like the litter, so we go out and bag it up. If you feel strongly about the litter, go and pick it. If enough people do this, motorists will see you doing it and a movement will get going and people will feel more guilty about chucking litter out of their cars if they see people out there picking it. We go out once or twice a week and just do it. This is about educating society, and not whinging about whose job it is to pick up after people. Picking it will educate people by a gradual process of talking about it to friends and being visible doing it and looking like a private individual picking, not a council employee.

    • Derek Gilman says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with your comments and think most people who take an interest in this site are likely to pick up litter themselves. There is an attitude of ‘it’s not my responsibility…’ or ‘the local council should sort this out…’ In these cash strapped times, we ALL have a duty to do our bit. However, there is a difference between litter picking on a local level and tackling the gargantuan amounts accumulating on our trunk roads and motorways, where attempts to litter pick privately would probably end up in prosecution under some trespass or health and safety regulations (there seems to be a 1.2 m safety margin rule before any litter can be picked by contractors). Litter on these roads tends to be bulkier and often on a larger scale, e.g. swathes of plastic and industrial wrapping, burst tyres, even highways authorities’ redundant road works signage and supporting structures. This can only be dealt with by the statutory bodies concerned and is the reason this site exists, i.e. to put pressure on them to do something about it. But keep up the good work!

      • DAVID GORDON says:

        I agree
        but I think we need radical action so again, if we go out on the trunk roads with bags and pickers, yes we may get arrested, but think of the headlines!!!!
        Also, it is getting the offenders to see us out there risking life and limb and prosecution, eventually this will make the offenders feel more guilty especially when they find friends or family out doing it.

  132. Adam Smith says:

    The A27 in West Sussex is among the worst I have seen for litter. There are several lay-byes, none of which have litter bins. As a result, litter is discarded there, often in bags, and this litter is then dispersed up the carriageway and verges. I wrote to Chichester District Council asking why no litter bins are provided. Their response was that the bins previously provided filled up too quickly, encouraged people to leave waste, and so were removed. Read that last sentence back again: the bins were removed because people used them to dispose of rubbish!

    I suggested they might make better use of CCTV, certainly on the slip roads, or regularly close a lane of the carriageway to clear the litter (and really publicize the fact that the road is partially closed because of persistent littering). People need to see and feel the cost and inconvenience of the problem.

    • Adam

      I have suggested to Highways England the need to close a lane during the day and litter pick and place a safety sign stating ‘Sorry for the Inconvenience to Your Journey This is Due to Removing Your Litter’ but I think this is not politically correct for them as they are frightened of the public backlash. Also, another barrier, they have targets to keep traffic flowing and avoiding delays yet Highways England has no Key Performance Indicators or weekly cleaning standards for litter and removal. I realise your case is the local authority but I suspect this is the attitude. Every suggestion the public puts to the authorities that is simple, practical and aids the anti-litter campaign is batted back with excuses. Shameful country. Would it happen in Germany? No.

  133. AOneUK the private contractor for Area 4 in Kent and Sussex. The whole motorway network in Kent, the Garden of England (joke, it is the Dustbin of England) are the most deceitful of organisations working for the taxpayer and Highways England. Having complained and complained to all the top dogs regarding litter in Kent and nationally I just happened to watch Colas, their subcontractor ‘litter picking’ the A2 in Gravesham, North Kent; I say litter picking in the loosest of terms because one man was behind the van picking up large items such as plastic sheet and cardboard and the remainder of litter was left on the verges and to the gentle slopes. I think the van driver and litter picker were more interested in driving rather than doing the job they are legally obliged to do. Highlights just how private contractors set their own standards and work unmonitored. Needless to say, the A2 on Monday remained at Grade C AFTER the contractor had passed by. Amazing how Highways England spins the litter problem as a major problem when they are part of the problem by not directing their contractors to litter pick properly and frequently throughout the network and hence why our motorways are mainly at Grade C and Grade D. The new National Anti-Litter Strategy for England states the Government wants Highways England to identify 25 Hot Spots on the network. I think the reverse should happen; find 25 Clean Spots on the network. And the Government wants this country to take back control of our laws! They can’t even use the strict ones we have already. Litter of this degree would never happen in the rest of Northern Europe and certainly not Germany, France and Austria. Are we that low in this country where this is accepted as a standard of living in the short term?

  134. Joan Fryer says:

    Not only is this country becoming a third world one with regard to the dismantling of public services in preference to privatisation, it is also becoming a third world country with regard to litter. Whilst travelling along the A34 recently, it was disturbing to see the amount of rubbish strewn out of vehicle windows by people who think the environment is a huge rubbish bin.

    In Canada there is a telephone no. advertised along the side of the highways for people to report the registration no. of vehicles whose occupants are guilty of this outrageous behaviour – they are moronic. Is it any wonder that Bill Bryson finds it incomprehensible that the inhabitants of this beautiful country has nothing but contempt for it. It is upsetting for all those who respect and love our beautiful countryside.

  135. P McMaster says:

    I travel the A40 between Monmouth and Newport daily, both sides of the Highway, are heavily littered, to the point that you would think this would raise concerns with the local highways depot stationed alongside the carriageway.
    I am intrigued to understand what type of Contract these Authorities sign up to with their Contractors that allow this apparent lack of performance to continue.

    Typical examples noted are full carrier bags of litter and bottles of urine,both of which emanate from overnighting truck drivers, which I thought was still an illigal activity.

    Just where are the enforcing authorities when you need them

    It amuses me the amount of TV programming which extols the beauty of the British scenery and country side yet ignores the filth in our towns and along the highways.

  136. Sarah Drury says:

    Thanks Peter for being such a terrier. Villages round here (SW of Ipswich) litter-pick once or twice a year but don’t cover the lanes in between. Some of these, because of density of traffic, are dangerous for pedestrians. The council refuses to put in pickers for Health and Safety reasons. The litter stays there from year to year. One good sign is that the huge local Tesco at Copdock roundabout finally gave in and contributed six of their staff to join our village pick, thereby acknowledging that most of the rubbish originates from them. But when the stuff is deep in undergrowth it’s sometimes impossible to reach without special equipment and clothing. As others have said, when official grass cutting is undertaken on verges, the operators have no instructions re litter so leave it in place. Madness.
    Once I saw a squad of ‘community offenders’ in action round the A14 underpass. Once in ten years. As for the A12 and A14 and their slip roads: truly a national disgrace. There has to be a change in attitude from top (legislation, government and commercial organisations, schools) to bottom (drivers, cyclists, walkers).

  137. Roger Needham says:

    Today 10 th April 2017 I have driven along the M54 motorway, from Wolverhampton to Telford, and the litter along the banks of the motorway is obscene. Coincidentally I was listening to BBC Radio 2 which was airing a feature on this subject. The same picture is to be found along all of our motorways, their junctions and normal roads. Until we start fining these offenders HEAVILY we will never bring it under control. Increase the fines to an obscene amount and put it towards the clean up costs and the cost of cameras. I have a dash cam and will send any evidence of littering to the authorities.

  138. trevor dilley says:

    The A45 between Rushden and Northampton is absolutely awash with obsolete road repair furniture and flotsam that seems to have been abandoned,it has been the case for many months.There is also an abandoned rail repair that has also seemingly been forgotten since last year.

  139. David Brooker says:

    The main roads and motorways, especially the junctions, around the Gatwick area are some of the worst I have seen for litter. What on earth do visitors to our country think…?

  140. Hi , A case of fly tipping of off Switchback road north, entrance to Malders Lane . It had been dumped by fly tippers
    During the day blocking the road. A local who live in a cottage nearby reported it to the Police who came and blocked off the road. What had been roofing material which was made up of dangerous material containg asbestos.My wife and a friend go walking most days in that area and always pick up litter much thrown from cars , vans and lorriesee.

  141. Alexander Marchenko says:

    A27 east of A23 junction is so filthy… Lay-bys are not equipped with rubbish bins and people have no alternative than carrying bags in their vehicles, which many apparently don’t do.

  142. Clifford Cotterill says:

    Drove along the A14 eastwards on Wednesday 5th April.

    The amount of rubbish on the embankments between the Catthorpe interchange and the A5199 has to be seen to be believed. I have driven in France, Germany, Poland, Spain Portugal, Belgium, Holland and Brazil and never seen anything remotely as bad.

    One thing about Brexit, I think our European neighbours will be delighted to see the back of the dirty man of Europe. It’s nothing short of outrageous. ‘England’s green and pleasant land’? What a joke.

  143. Brian Lambert says:

    The A14 east of the M6 junction for about 10 miles is a tip. The lay-bys are worse than a tip. This section of the A14 is always full of litter, most of which appears to have been throw from passing vehicles.

    • Brian

      We travelled along the A14 you describe last August 2016 and it was a tip then. I love the signs put up to state ‘We are aware there is litter and removal is ongoing’. Basically meaning don’t bother to contact us because we will do some litter picking when we feel like it. Third World Brexit Britain! The EU must be glad for ‘the Dirty Man of Europe’ to be leaving in 2020.

  144. JOHN WOOLMER says:

    From personal experience I feel that council charges at waste sites are largely to blame for many of the increases in fly-tipping. Small operators of garden and household waste disposal, small building firms and even private individuals wanting to clear their surplus goods face hefty charges issued by councils at their sites. Sometimes these charges are so high for waste disposal from lorries, vans and trailers that the drivers/owners see fly tipping as their only option.
    Councils should try charging a minimum sum (that covers their costs) and then see how this reduces the amount of fly tipping – especially in rural area and onto farmland.

  145. John Canvin says:

    For two years residents have been asking Harrow Council to clear fly tipping from private leasehold roads behind Rayners Lane shops. They refuse to do so as the roads are private, but subject to public rights of way … but they still collect resident bins from those roads, they occasionally put community service personnel there to collect litter for an hour or two, they have as a one off cleared fly tips from a private road in Edgware, they have threatened two traders with enforcement action to clear a fly tip behind their shops, and have offered to prosecute tippers where traders can supply cctv evidence (although have never kept this promise).
    Has any Council in the UK been known to buck this trend and do the right thing?
    Thanks for your site. It is a very needed facility.
    With regards John

  146. This is an article from my local newspaper. The area in question is a small lorry park area on the edge of town owned by Highways England. Yet another location that they cannot manage properly even though it has been an ongoing problem for several years. The ministerial response is to request ‘Hot Spot’ areas from Highways England for clearance in March. I have written a detailed response to all concerned this morning state that if Highways England and Area 4 AOneUK were doing their job and it was funded correctly then there would be no ‘Hot Spots’.


  147. DavidG says:

    This https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.397832,-0.1587566,3a,75y,98.69h,63.29t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1svXttwN8M2n6DCmQQMO3jtg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en is the corner of Mitcham Common in the London Borough of Merton. This is private land. I reported it two years ago to the Mitcham Conservators. It looks the same today.

    Sections 43 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 allows officers to issue community protection notices to an individual or body, if satisfied on reasonable grounds that the conduct of the individual or body is having a detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality

    Trafford Council have been using the letter to good effect. I have had no update from Merton officers for over two months and the problem continues to get worse. Perhaps it’s time to start a ‘filthy Mitcham’ press campaign.

    • David

      Yes I would. Any adverse publicity is hated by local authorities and other bodies. As an ex-civil servant we were told to avoid any adversity in our public activities that could impact and cause the public to complain and make the government look incompetent. In terms of Highways England though, they simply couldn’t care less what the public think. I’d like to sit with the CEO of Highways England in a room with the rest of the public concerned about litter and ask him what the problem is with funding a properly organised litter clearance service. Highways England are one disgraceful publicly funded government agency.

  148. James Vincent Miller says:

    According to HE there were 278 litter related complaints in 2015, and 320 in 2016. An increase of nearly 15%, further suggesting that HE’s contractors appear to becoming even worse at keeping the network clean.

    • The Kent network under Area 4 AOneUk is a disgrace. Entering the UK from Dover and what a foreign visit is faced with within five minutes is piles of uncollected litter from the A20 and M20. I have been challenging Area 4 AOneUK about the state of the network and five the same barriers of ‘it is a county wide litter problem’ ‘we have to consider health and safety’ ‘we give our workforce discretion as to the areas that can be litter picked without harming them’. When challenged on the fact that are acting against the law in terms of putting money and resources before the delivery of a clean network, I was told by a representative of AOne UK covering Area 4 that cost wasn’t an issue but they recognise the problem and have been recruiting more operatives to clear the litter and at the moment the new team is in training to ‘familiarise themselves with the network’. In other words, when AOneUK tendered for the new maintenance contract their bid must have excluded litter clearance as a task and this is because Highways England has not mention of litter picking standards or Key Performance Indicators in their Business Plan. Highways England and their private contractors are very collusive in their approach to the litter problem but I think the public are seeing through the years of deception that has and is occurring at the top of Highways England and within government. I read (correct me if I am wrong) that Highways England spent only £4m last year nationally clearing litter. That must be work out pence per kilometre, hence the state of the network. Also, AOneUK stated to me that they is anti-littering signage on the Kent network. Of all my travels in the county I have not seen one sign at a petrol station or the use of the safety dot matrix system being used to inform the public. You really cannot trust this publicly funded body.

      • James Vincent Miller says:

        In area 3 we have dozens of anti litter signs that have been installed over the past year at slip road entrances and exits, and posters in service stations, a credit to Kier Highways Ltd. They are also very responsive to litter complaints. I have complained about two stretches of the M3 recently and they have been fully cleansed within two weeks. However, thier proactive clearance still leaves alot to be desired. Regarding area 4, I can see that they received the third and second highest number of complaints in 2016/17 respectively. If you are interested in receiving the breakdown of litter complaints please let me know.

  149. Brian Fowle says:

    Actually saw two sepearate lots of litter pickers just before and after junction 3 clockwise M25 in Kent last Friday, well done whoever is responsible why cant other areas be treated the same.. especially the A13 in Essex parts are disgusting.

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      Problem is Highways England are deliberately tickering around the edges with litter picking. They have no plan, no Key Performance Indicators and allow their private contractors (funded by the UK taxpayer) to set their own delivery standards. It has been going on for decades. The law was written in a way whereby cost and resource are not a consideration to maintaining a litter free network so nationally our network should be litter free. But as nobody with Highways England and government check then the law is being flouted and Highways England and presumably supported by their CEO are highly accepting of their contractors and managers deliberately abusing the law and not litter picking to maintain a litter free network. My MP Adam Holloway, Gravesham Kent is fully aware of the illegality of what Highways England are doing yet he is sympathetic with their problems of litter. The fact is Highways England do not fund a proper litter collection service and give the impression it does. When challenged they use health and safety, traffic management issues and any other barrier for not cleaning. I’m challenging Area 4 in Kent at the moment over their illegal law flouting and intend to get answers.

  150. Sue Frost says:

    I drove along the A1 in Cambridgeshire yesterday and again I am filled with despair at the amount of rubbish strewn along the verges it beggars belief. It is great to see the council workers picking litter from motorway verges, but when are we going to address the ROUTE CAUSE of this problem and fine the recycle companies for not netting their lorries. WE already have some great videos highlighting the route cause, these companies need to be held accountable for their total lack of concern for our countryside. It is our council tax that is being spent to clear the verges, so in effect we are paying twice, we pay to have our bins and company recycling taken away, it is strewn along the motorways and then we pay again to have council workers litter picking, no wonder council tax goes up every year! How about taking a map of the recycling routes and recycling centres and overlay them on the roads and just see if they match up. I have stressed time and time again it is not motorists that throw palette wrap and plastics out of their cars, in all the years I have been driving I have never seen a motorist driving along at 70 mph throwing rubbish out of their car. Yes laybys and service areas – take away wrappers, I agree comes from cars and we need to hold people accountable for their actions, but not the plastics strewn along the motorway verges.

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      Yes the A1 is a national disgrace. I use the A1 to Newark and the litter is in piles on the large central areas and the hedgerows are choked where it has blown over the years. This isn’t Britain that had standards. This is now a third world island. One thing about EU countries they have pride in their environment. We, the fifth richest world economy cannot even clear litter from roads.

  151. Derek Gilman says:

    On a POSITIVE note, was pleasantly surprised travelling down M20 from Sidcup to Maidstone and then along A249 over Detling Hill (work apparently undertaken alongside night time road works closures) to see most verges litter picked. The A249 from Stockbury to Key Street was not so good but am told is awaiting cutting back of shrubbery to allow for 1.2m safe margin for workers, for clearance. HOWEVER…what about the central reservations – they seem to be widely ignored. Is there yet another H&S regulation which prevents their cleaning??

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      Well done and keep the pressure up. I emailed Maidstone for their future litter strategy for the area at the bottom of Blue Blue Hill A229 and at the same time stated the badly littered A249 and reiterated the law – work must be done and money and resources not a consideration. Hopefully they will learn for the future.

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      Central reservations need traffic management. So what I say. Traffic manage during the day and litter pick safely. Once again it costs them money and resources to do the central reservation but the law is clear; carry out the works but cost is not an issue. Therefore Maidstone needs reminding of this. What they will come back is the excuse that traffic management causes delays to traffic. That is also not a consideration under law. You need to just bat back the law to them and they will get on with the work.

  152. David Basson says:

    Good to see Kier, working for HE, litter picking westbound M27 Saturday between J7 and J5.

  153. Monnica Wilby says:

    The A27 East Bound between Arundel and Dover Lane has a serious litter issue, as does the A27 west bound between Fontwell and Level Mare Lane

  154. Today I watched Highways England’s private contractor, AOne Area 4 litter pick the verges on the coast bound carriageway of the A2, viewed from the Hog Lane bridge. They litter picked the strip adjacent to the hard shoulder but totally ignored the litter on the slope and on the top of the slope. The gradient of the slope did not present any issues of safety/practicability.

    • Derek Gilman says:


      There seems to be a trend by which the authorities hide behind health and safety regulations – even where one would perceive no apparent danger. I received the following in response to my complaint about the amount of plastic and industrial polythene wrapping festooning the trees and bushes along a local stretch of road (dual carriageway with wide verges):

      “… there is currently an issue with litter picking certain parts due to overgrown vegetation which reduces the 1.2m area. We are liaising with the management company with regards to getting this cut back so that we can litter pick. Once this is confirmed a lane closure can be arranged in order for the vegetation to be cut back and we will litter pick at the same time but this will take a few weeks to organise.”

      On a more local issue, relating to residential areas within the borough, I asked why the mechanical roadsweeper was now rarely seen on our estate. The response:-

      “… After checking the schedule it would appear that the area should be attended to weekly on a Monday. The way the contract now works, if the area isn’t below a B grade when Biffa attend, the road will be signed off as checked until the following scheduled visit. ”

      I have corresponded with local MPs, Jim O’Sullivan (HE) and local/county authorities on the issue of litter/industrial waste, but without a great deal of success. I do feel that, from the responses received, they are all operating to tight budgets and Dept for Transport directives. I also think that, like a lot of other issues, litter clearance and general maintenance is on the back burner due to the massive changes and resulting costs in the Brexit vote. In other words, this is not currently a major issue. How we resolve this – I don’t know. But I think we all need to keep badgering away in the hope that some improvement – however patchy, might be achieved!

      • Paul Plumb says:

        Totally agree, I use the A428, the A1 and A14 in Cambridgeshire, the roadsides of all main highways and slip roads are a disgraceful state with every kind of litter. When you think it can’t get any worse it does. I have tried my local councils and other authorities and they say its nothing to do with them. This includes walking areas close to where I live, the sides and ditches are full of litter which apparently is too dangerous to access. It’s a pathetic excuse really, its not that hard to pick up the letter. The trouble is that we as a nation do not take any pride in our surroundings and the authorities hide behind one excuse after another not to clear it. In my opinion bottles, cans, plastic bags etc should have a heavy tariff and be redeemed when returned to the source. Companies should receive very heavy fines for allowing waste to escape during transport or at any other time. The same for individuals who constantly open their car windows and throw rubbish on to the side of the roads. The latest mindless trick is to collect your dog foul and then hang the bag and content on a branch instead of putting it in a bin provided. There is not much hope really!

  155. Derek Gilman says:

    Have received two responses recently on the state of local roads, firstly from Highways England:-

    “I’m sorry to hear of the continued problem with litter at the Stockbury roundabout. I’ve notified our local depot of this and asked an inspection is carried out at the next available opportunity.

    Litter inspections categorise areas into grade A, B, C or D. Works are then carried out to the guidelines, with grades D and C getting cleared within seven and twenty-eight days respectively. Grades A and B are monitored with works being carried out if the higher priority grades are cleared.

    Following the inspection I’ve requested, the litter will be graded and then cleared in accordance with the guidelines outlined above.”

    Does anybody know how this grading system works? I wonder whether grades A and B are totally ignored due to financial pressures etc etc..

    Secondly, from the local council, which shows the complex chain of responsibility:-

    “The A249 Sittingbourne to Stockbury is managed by Sheppey Route Ltd although Biffa undertake the task of litter picking the verges. We have a team out on this very long road when permissible, 4 hours a day, 5 days a week and the only practical way to maintain this is methodically starting at one end and finishing at the other, then start all over again. The A249 is a high speed road therefore operatives are not allowed to work on areas that are less than 1.2m from the live lane or during poor visibility, meaning this is also weather dependent, consequently a risk assessment has to be undertaken daily. The rules are created by the HSE and we have to abide by them and correctly so. Our Contract Monitoring Officer for the area monitors the A249 daily, however as I am sure you can appreciate, litter is ‘a moment in time’ and due to this road being highly trafficked, any litter clearance that has been undertaken can be undone in an instant.

    We have been in contact with Conway, the company contracted by Sheppey Route Ltd to manage the road and requested that the vegetation is cut back to enable our litter pickers easier access to the areas affected as the majority of the plastic is not accessible.

    Our Enforcement regularly liaise with the local freight companies to ensure they are fulfilling their duties with regards to minimising loss of load.”

    Amazing what the threat of a Litter Abatement Notice can do, although I get the impression that the ‘health and safety’ argument is used as an excuse not to do anything.

    I still think that however often the roads are cleaned, the problem will reappear within days. We need a massive publicity campaign with the likes of Jeremy Paxman, Margaret Mountford, Bill Bryson etc. who have all campaigned in the past, together with striking roadside ‘reminders’ and hefty deposits on plastic/glass bottles and tin cans. I fear that the Govt’s new ‘Litter Strategy’ will fall short of this. But lets keep chipping away and support Peter Silverman in his efforts. I think this groundswell of opinion, shame (especially with overseas visitors) and dissatisfaction is gaining momentum!

    • Derek

      Firstly the Environment Protection Act 1990 is the law, nothing else. In the law it states ‘litter free’ end of story. The current law expects the highways to be cleaned in conjunction with risk assessments and health and safety. Accepted.

      But the written word of the law is specific ‘as is practicable’ instead of ‘as reasonable practical’ the latter meaning risk and assessment and undertaking the task if money is available. In effect, Highways England and their contractor are acting illegally and matching a budget (which is peanuts for England for litter) and cherry picking areas to clean instead of having a properly thought out plan.

      The grading system is one that DEFRA introduced as GUIDANCE so local authorities and Highways England could use to assess when their network has dropped below a standard. All roads should be maintained at Grade A but this is difficult so you look at having a network graded at Grade B (predominantly litter free) and if this standard drops then it is cleaned to back to Grade A within a set timescale.

      You are right in that everybody you have written to is using a budget to restrain their litter picking activities and this is also because they don’t resource litter picking as a priority within their organisation. It is adhoc and reactionary to complaints.

      The health and safety 1.2m rule was issued as a guidance for Highways England to follow as part of their risk assessment for litter picking. It was not meant as an excuse to delay and not litter pick. Once again, it goes back to Highways England and their private contractors using money and lack of resources to not litter picking. The next excuse will be traffic management causes delays yet another deflection.

      In summary, what you have been told is simply to suit Highways England and their lack of budgets and priority to properly fund a proper litter picking service. I would write to Jim O’Sullivan CEO Highways England (jim.o’sullivan@highwaysengland.co.uk and info@highwaysengland.co.uk with your replies and stating the law and their acting illegally and copy your MP into the full account. Our network doesn’t have to be like this even though we have a litter problem nationally. Highways England are brainwashing the nation into thinking they are doing all they can to stop the problem but in reality they are not even doing the bare minimum.

  156. Julia Morgan says:

    M42/A42 en route to Nottingham from Solihull….miles and miles of roadside litter. It is a disgrace – the government accepting the disgusting state of our roadside verges is a microcosm of what is NOT great about the UK! Can people/businesses sponsor stretches of road to be kept litter free as I saw in California years ago? More public education not to do it in the first place!

  157. Janice stannard says:

    Since my previous complaint in April 2016 and still being a regular traveller along the A249 between M20 and M2 I am even more disgusted and appalled that the litter situation has become even worse along this stretch of road and the Highways Authority are making no attempt to clear the verges. Why are the standards for which Britain so proudly stood for being allowed to deteriorate to such a low level, making it a displeasure to travel through our countryside rather than a pleasure. Whilst acknowledging the problem is as a result of irresponsible individuals with no conscience at all about chucking or leaving behind their filthy muck, we pay our taxes to contribute towards these services which are not being done periodically. Muck always attracts more muck and I dread to think what it be like in another year if this problem is not attended to!

    • Derek Gilman says:

      Hi Janice

      Have been in touch with Maidstone BC (John Edwards) on this and said that in the absence of any positive action, I would issue a Litter Abatement Notice (LAN – refer previous correspondence on this). His reply is as follows:-

      ” We have planned to undertake a fortnight of night time works from 20th March that includes the litter picking of the verges along A249. This work is part of an larger project to resolve a number of Kent Highway issues along this A249. We litter pick parts of A249 every week but due the high speed and high usage of the road there is parts we are only able to cleanse with the assist of KCC as traffic management is required. After this schedule the next cleanse is due earlier July.”

      I suggest we monitor this and, if no improvement is forthcoming, revert to J Edwards and issue the LAN.


      D Gilman

      • Derek

        That’s good but once again Maidstone Borough Council are stating that litter picking can only take place with traffic management at certain times. They are using the fact the road is high speed and needs traffic management. This will cost them money and they are using cost as a barrier to not weekly litter picking. Totally contrary and illegal to the Environment Protection Act 1990. If traffic management is needed on a weekly basis to litter pick then so be it. That is the law. Risk assessment, provide a safe working space and do the work. No debate.

        • Derek

          I have requested an update on the future litter picking at the southern section of the A229 Blue Blue Hill from Maidstone Borough Council and also reiterated the ‘as is practicable’ words from the EPA 1990. On a positive note, since my litter abatement notice being served, Maidstone Borough Council has installed bollards near to the Audi garage to stop the illegal dumping and overnight parking. Hopefully there will litter pick this whole area monthly from now on at least although I have stated it should be done weekly as soon as the grading drops to Grade C (scattering of litter).

          Also in my email I have mentioned the A249 and the state of the road in terms of litter and once again reiterated the law and the fact that cost is not a consideration as a barrier to regular cleaning. Also, traffic management and health and safety is not a barrier to not litter picking but is an important factor to carry out the work. In other words, implement a regular and safe mode of working and litter pick weekly to meet the requirements of the law and the guidance of cleanliness laid down by DEFRA.

  158. Jacqueline taylor says:

    I was walking from Chiswell Green, St Albans to Oakwood Road yesterday and crossed the M25 slip roads and after crossing the M25 slip which goes onto the roundabout walked along the footpath on the Bricket Wood side of the A405. I was totally disgusted to see that a wheelbarrow which had been dumped and tossed into the bushes was still there despite the fact that I reported this about two years ago. Clearly that report was ignored as well.

    • Karen Bell says:


      Yes that is the attitude of Highways England. They simply do not want to remove rubbish and litter pick. Wouldn’t happen in any other northern European country. About time the litter picking service was given to an independent national based organisation. What gets me is, Highways England moans about the constant litter drops yet I haven’t seen one anti-litter sign at service stations, no anti-litter sign on the dot matrix systems and no general signage. It doesn’t matter what is suggested to Highways England and the government, they are all in denial and completely disengaged and not interested in solving the litter crisis holistically in the UK. Contemptous and insulting!

  159. Anne Fletcher says:

    I feel sadden and depressed every time I travel due the LITTER, abandoned TYRES, and sadly roadkill, along our transport networks, in lay-bys and around fast food outlets. It is offensive and potentially a health hazard. A recent trip along A38, M1, M14 – was just a horrible experience. These should be ‘Wildlife Corridors’. According to one of my neighbours we are living in ‘Dog Shit City’! EDUCATION at SOURCE and TOUGH ACTION is required- Is this how people who eat JUNK FOOD live? Manufactures of Junk Food are making plenty of money – they need to reduce packaging, assist in cleaning up this mess as well. Greater Taxes on JUNK FOOD to help comb and clean our countryside. What message are we passing on to our younger generation? Central Government help is required to tattle this situation.

  160. LC says:

    I travel the length of the A46 between Evesham and Warwick daily for work and I get very upset to see the number of dead animals which are added to every day and which rarely get cleared away. I suspect that authorities hope for predators to eventually remove the carcasses from the highway and verges, but this is rarely the case and the number of badgers, deer, foxes, rabbits, stoats, rats, birds of prey and game birds in particular that litter the road regularly is obscene.
    Of course there is other detritus that is left on the highway and highway verges, bags of rubbish, tyres, parts of vehicles and in particular large streamers of plastic which fly off lorries and then shred in the trees or wave like banners from the hedgerows (a hazard to wildlife in itself), but I find the large number of animals and birds left to fester or be gradually ground down into the road surface truly shocking and sad. It’s bad enough that we are all guilty of using those vehicles which add to their number, but we add insult to injury by not taking away their dead bodies before they are mutilated beyond recognition.

  161. Ian Dare says:

    Just a few thoughts. Driving along the M42 & M40 today I noticed that some tree-thinning had recently been carried out. As presumably this was only done after all the ludicrous “safety” measures that we are assured are necessary for any litter-picking had been performed, then why the heck was the litter on the same verges not picked up at the same time ? Not joined-up thinking, but then again these days I hardly expect any common sense from Highways England. In many cases, sawn branches had been carefully made into little stacks, probably to encourage wildlife. Why bother, when voles can make dens in plastic bottles and birds can build nests out of plastic warping ? Hardly conducive to biodiversity. And why are the verges between slip roads (i.e. between the off-slip and on-slip of junctions) always left litter-strewn when the rest of the road has been litter-picked ? Does H.E. forget that these places exist ? The M42 was a linear tip as usual, apart from the stretch between J9 and 7 which I believe is privately operated and is consistently litter-free.

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      That’s one of the problems no thinking. Highways England still allow grass cutting contractors to cut before litter picking has taken place. Too many sub contractors and nobody in at the top monitoring or coordinating. I find it contemptuous and as an ex-civil servant if my Department treated the public the way HE do we would have been penalised by ministers and national audit. HE aren’t litter picking what they class as safe areas let alone other areas. Fact is, the law EPA 1990 requires litter free highways and cost is not a consideration. HE is acting illegally by delaying and only scheduling litter picking to suit their private contractor’s budget. In my opinion. this act of deception is bordering on fraud.

  162. Sajan says:

    Im writing this to complaint about heavy litter on all junction of M1 specially on J22 southbound slip road I cant believe that this is happening in England it really looks like thord world country. I request to please clean this up

  163. It has taken two months of chasing but at last there has been some action from the contractor used by Highways England, Connect Plus Services, to tackle some of the litter on the verges of the A405 link road between the M1 and M25 near St Albans. They have not tackled the central reservation, that remains an eyesore, but promised they will soon. I did notice a new sign on the slip road at Junction 6 of the M1 Northbound that implored people not to drop litter and warning that CCTV was in operation. It was also clear that this slip road had been recently litter picked, I’ll await to see how long the benefits remain visible, but I’m not optimistic.

  164. John Hope says:

    Last week I had to go to Milton Keynes and returned part of the way along the A 421; the verge on the section immediately you leave the city itself going towards then M1 is quite literally a litter dump. Here’s a thought : just before you get to the section I am referring to you have the vast John Lewis warehouse complex. What about trying to engage them in this battle and other companies who take pride in their place in civil society and extol their environmental credentials . If it were to be pointed out to them that just a stone’s throw from their immaculate depot is a rubbish tip along the side of the roadI am very confident it would elicit some sort of positive response.

  165. Liz Taylor says:

    I travel to Chatham from Paddock Wood in Kent on Mondays and am appalled by the litter, especially around the M2/A228 junctions. Has the local authority just given up litter collection? Who should I write to to complain? Liz

  166. Anthea Dempsey says:

    The state of our littered highways does not look like it will improve any time soon. I agree we should all try to raise the profile of the issue by writing to our MPs and the responsible local/national authorities, but what about trying to ‘jump start’ a nationwide initiative by inviting television celebrities/presenters to get involved. I would suggest approaching Matt Baker of Countryfile and The One Show. Also Clare Balding who has a proven record through her radio and TV programmes of caring about the state of the UK. I think relevant authorities possibly need to be shamed into action. Litter on our streets and countryside needs to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
    Of course we should all, also, continue to do our own bit locally and pass the message on to the next generation.

  167. Craig says:

    Thank you, Peter, for your dogged pursuit of HE regarding prosecuting the bulk waste-carrier companies that appear, for the most part, to be responsible for littering our highways. You’re doing great work.

    There is indeed a desperate need for the enforcement and prosecution of offenders but this would rely on catching them in the first place and then putting them through the legal process. All of this would cost money! And with the country in £1.7 trillion of debt, I do wonder whether any money at all will be forthcoming from the government for many years.

    Rather than running round at great expense trying to pick up litter after it has escaped into the environment, would it not be more cost-effective (and therefore attractive to the government) to prevent litter from falling off the back of waste-lorries in the first place?

    This could be done by legislation so that, in effect, ‘bad’ designs of trailer that allow waste to escape would be banned and therefore no longer be available for purchase by waste-carriers. Perhaps there should only be one type of government-approved trailer that tests have demonstrated does not shed waste, in the same way that wheelie-bins are of a standard design and meet a particular British standard. Perhaps too a scrappage scheme for trailers that are not fit for purpose could be implemented to get those trailers off the road that, by their design, tend to shed waste.

    I have come across the following TV report, lasting three minutes, that was made a few months ago by CBS News in North Carolina about this very problem. Without saying as much, it highlights the need for the regulation of good trailer/tarpaulin design as an important way of solving the waste-carrier/litter problem.


    I agree that we do absolutely need to continue pressing HE and councils to fulfil their legal duty to keep our highways free of litter but perhaps this needs to be complemented by a different kind of enforcement that takes the opportunity to litter out of the hands of hauliers completely, making expensive policing and enforcement ‘after the event’ unnecessary.

  168. Andrew S says:

    The A1 Tyneside between the Tyne and Gosforth currently being litter picked as it is every March. Shame the road further north in once beautiful Northumberland is so dirty and neglected….

  169. Phil wallis says:

    Thank you for your reply
    I have wrote again to my MP , Kelly Tolhurst , apologies in last response i referred to her as tolforth.

    If everyone writes one letter to their MP a month explaining how bad the problem is then hopefully we will get a debate and some much needed action, remember MP’s are working for us , take them to task don’t let them brush you under the carpet


    Phil Wallis .

  170. Sarah Butcher says:

    Dear Peter, THANK YOU for doing something about this issue. It is a thankless task I’m sure. We need you!!
    I am a volunteer litter-picker in Welwyn village which is very near the A1. Even though we pick once a month, there is litter from the motorway and by-pass roads all around the village not to mention historical litter which has lain in the hedgerows for years. There are always about 10 full bags at the end of a 2 hour session. As for the roads, where do I start??? It is appalling everywhere, slip roads to and from motorways especially. Special mention for roads I use regularly; A1 slip roads junction 6 south, junction 4 Welwyn Garden City, A505 everywhere from Baldock to A10 junction, M25 also everywhere, but particularly bad on slip roads especially A1/M25 junction. It is obvious that Highways England and any other authority legally obliged to pick up the litter are NOT doing their jobs properly. If I ran my business in this neglectful manner I would have been bankrupt years ago.
    But also we must target the people who drop it in the first place and the companies that produce all the unnecessary, throwaway packaging. Bring back the public information film I say. A PIF can reach everyone who watches TV and goes to the cinema, telling them just how much it costs to pick up their litter and what the money could be spent on instead if they disposed of it properly.
    Also WHY WHY WHY can’t this government do the bottle deposit scheme? Why? It puts a value on litter so people are much less likely to throw it away. Look what has happened with a 5p (should be 50p in my opinion) plastic bag; usage has gone down about 85% as the Guardian reported in July 2016. Imagine what 10p would do for glass/plastic bottles.
    How about a government Litter Tsar??
    Sometimes I despair about the litter problem but I carry on picking it up because I just can’t stand the sight of it all over our lovely country. But I think I might have to rename myself King Canute.

    • Sarah Butcher says:

      I’m replying to my own email! I wrote to Highways England about the A1 slip road which was very bad and they actually phoned me back twice to tell me they are going to clear it in May. They have to close the road to do it, that is the reason it doesn’t get done so often (hmmm). But at least they are going to do it. AND there was a massive turn out of council pickers clearing the llitter along the A505 between Baldock and the A10. Maybe things are improving? Or maybe it’s just the end of the financial year and they are using up their spare budget? Whatever the reason at least it’s a bit tidier now!

  171. Just received a reply from my MP that represents Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire. I wrote to him expressing my support for a deposit system on all plastic drink bottles and cans as I see so many of these dumped along the whole of the A1. It is a littered item that could be removed from the environment. The reply I received was an utter pile of rubbish and the summary of it was ‘reducing litter by encouraging the population and working with industry’. Yes, OK, come down from fairyland and let look at it intelligently! Why is the deposit system such a barrier for government to review and sign off? Even Coca Cola want it because it will enhance its’ PR and further their circular economy strategy. What is the point of MP’s and DEFRA? Can somebody remind me please?

  172. Jane Cox says:

    Living in Perton ,South Staffs,every road I travel on seems to be strewn with waste but, having complained to my local council ,I was told they do not have the resources for regular litter clearing.Great to know that my taxes are not being used to maintain our once “green and pleasant land ”
    I have just posted a complaint about the M54 between Cosford and Telford which at this time of year used to be a lovely rural lined stretch of motorway awash with Spring flowers.Now it is an eyesore awash with filth and is an absolute disgrace, as are many other roads countrywide.It really makes you proud to be British seeing your country becoming one big tip.

  173. Mr P Wallis says:

    I have written many an email to my local MP for the Rochester and Strood constituency. Unfortunately Ms Talforth passes the buck onto the highways dept. who in turn are invisible and clearly do not care how bad the situation needs to get before anything is done.
    I am concerned about the amount of litter strewn across our roads at the moment to the point that it is very depressing. I talk of the A228 slip road from the M2 junction 2 in particular, a road I am very familiar with and the litter that is left to gather on the verges is getting to the point where its starting to resemble a landfill site.

    I am at that point in time where I feel I need to don a reflective jerkin ; arm myself with a pair of gloves and a litter picker and do the job for them.
    How bad does the eye sore of litter need to get before anything is done, I was driving my in laws who are Slovakian from the airport to my home and had to apologise for the way that our beautiful country side is being blighted. You never see any litter in Slovakia… anywhere. Its such a shameful thing to do that their society looks upon litter dropping as we do paedophilia. But just the other day I was driving behind a car and sure enough a bottle was hurled from its window onto the verge, when I challenged them with a honk of my car horn I was met with the obligatory middle finger salute.

    The famous hymn declares the line a green and pleasant land, Not this land , not anymore.

    If there is anything I can do in your impossible request please get in touch.


    Phil Wallis

    • Phil

      I live in North Kent and have lobbied and campaigned to the top since 2004. Even met Kent County Council with the Highways Agency, as it was, in attendance. They promise the earth at these meetings and give their tales of woe and then go away and give the public the two fingers. Fact is, Highways England is acting illegally. The law does not state ‘clear litter if reasonably practical’ It states ‘as is practical’. The former involved risk assessment and you only carry out the litter clearance to any part of the motorway if money and resources are available. The latter ‘as is practical’ means you risk assessment and follow all health and safety and make sure work operatives litter pick all areas safely, the important part here is money is NOT a consideration. Therefore, all the excuses of only cleaning central reservations and slip roads can only be carried out with other planned works or the areas concerned require extensive traffic management simply means ‘as Highways England litter clearance will be done but to save money and be cost effective and save on resources we will do the litter clearance adhoc’. In summary, the law as it stands requires all litter to be cleared, motorways must be keep litter free and money and resources are not mentioned. Highways England will also quote the DEFRA code of cleanliness which categories the expected cleanliness of given roads. This is no law and was produced as a code of practice for local authorities and Highways England to use as a GUIDE. It has not legal standing. The law is the Environment Protection Act 1990. I’m amazed that Highways England, the Government and MP’s are still fobbing off the public with all of this. Spread the word and put everybody right!

  174. The M20 gets very heavy use from HGV vehicles.
    The verges of it,- at a stretch at Henwood, Ashford is in a disgusting state. This is right by an access point to one of Ashford’s Green Corridor spaces –Queen Mother’s Park, which the public use. One side ( public side) of the motorway perimeter fence is clean –the other / motorway side, is filthy.
    Somebody, responsible for clearing rubbish from motorway verges needs to deal with this. It’s bad enough seeing all this from a car window –to have to walk right by it is unacceptable.

  175. Hilde Bartlett says:

    Two reports of excessive litter. Sadly I cannot take a photo as I am almost always on my own in the car.

    1. Link road from A3 to A 31 direction Farnham. It is absolutley full of all sorts of litter and has been there for a long time, at least 1 year. To a lesser extend there is also litter all along the A31 on both sides, i.e the Hogs Back.

    2. Jct. 20 of the M25, access roads to and from the M25. It is partularily bad on the exit road, clockwise direction, from the M25 to the roundabout below. The litter there has never been cleared away properly for years and certainly not since the road works.

  176. Anne J. says:

    What will it take for the Government to acknowledge the huge problem of roadside litter, and tackle the problem? Clearance, fining, and a huge public awareness campaign might go some way to restoring a sense of pride in this country, rather than the despair one feels at it’s current state.
    The media could do much to highlight the problem, but seem fixated with Brexit, Trump, the NHS etc., non of which will matter, if we, as a nation, have all disappeared under a mound of our own rubbish.

    • Anne

      You have summed up what needs to happen with this government to the letter!

      Brexit amazes me in terms of keep being told that the UK wants to take back its’ laws and sovereignty yet the Environment Protection Act 1990 and enforcement is here and legislated by a UK government not the EU but still this government chooses, conveniently, to ignore this law and the massive effects caused by not intervening and ignoring the massive litter crisis in the UK.

      Andrea Leadsom and DEFRA are as bad as the litterers!

  177. Jill Thomas says:

    The A2 between Dover and Brenley Corner is in an appalling condition with huge amounts of litter especially in and around the lay-bys where the foreign lorries park up overnight.

    Also the A256 Dover to Deal.

    Could there be a litter tax imposed on all entries to GB at Dover?

    We are told that the district council cannot afford to cone off the road to do a litter pick more than twice a year.

  178. Had a beautiful drive on Saturday in the first Spring sunshine. Travelled from Gravesend in Kent to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, wall to wall linear dustbin all the way! Thanks Highways England.

    Dartford Crossing on the Essex side and confronted with the most disgusting pile of litter from the tunnel exit to the newly widened Thurrock junction. It’s amazing that the newly completed roadwork verges are in the same appalling standard – Grade D.

    The drive around the M25 to the M11 yet another beauty. I would like to know why so much accumulated road debris just lays against the concrete retaining walls and it a great litter trap. All could be collected safely without traffic management. But I thought Highways England’s core duties were maintenance? So why the years of uncollected road debris? They can’t even deliver that to a clean the motorway!

    M11 to the junction of A11/A14 – Hit and miss cleaning but overall a filthy littered disgrace at Grade D and around the the Harlow area, the best practice of grass cutting before litter picking is still the choice of the day! How unprofessional and lazy from a private contractor and Highways England to still deploy this technique of litter removal. Reason why this area has been treated in this manner is because it hasn’t been litter picked for at least 6 months in my opinion.

    Stansted airport junctions and litter underneath the flyover road – no sure whether Highways England is going for gold on this area but the litter has been building for 6 months and it has barriers each side to the triangular area underneath the flyover.

    The A11 and A14 – not Highways England but should be. I think it has been said before but the A11 and A14 through Cambridgeshire and Suffolk are the forgotten A roads. Plastic clinging to trees, old plastic biodegrading in the trees, central reservations piled with plastic bottle, cans and fast food boxes. You name it, the A11 and A14 has it. The government should be ashamed to continue with this disgusting standard and above all, the illegal act of not regular collection.

    My return journey was as above but when I arrived into Kent I travelled along the A2 coastbound carriageway between the Darenth Interchange and Northfleet. The newly tarmaced road looked excellent but I was perplexed as to why the years of road debris, litter and old tyres were not removed along the base of the concrete central reservation. We keep being told by Highways England that central reservations are cleaned at the same time as combined roadworks (illegal act should be done as normal) yet they have flouted their own rules. Amateurs!

    Between A2 Bluewater and the Northfleet Springhead slip road – litter piled along the entire crash barrier next to the hard shoulder – Why? Safe area, safe litter picking so why? If Highways England cut all verges to a very short standard the litter could be collected quickly.

    Overall, it appears that we are now entering into the Spring and Summer seasons, the friend of Highways England, grow it high, hide the litter until the Winter, at which time we still ignore it!

    Highways England = contempt for the Environment Protection Act 1990, unprofessional and amateurish government body supported by the private sector

  179. Mark Godfrey says:

    The stretch of the A13 to Lakeside Thurrock where the turnoff to Lakeside/ Grays the Roundabout I have never seen anything like it before so much litter and Rubbish and this area about 5 years ago was so clean and litter free our family visiting from Australia was so shocked and disgusted with how the country they were born and grew up in to be in such a big mess and turned into a DUMP ! .
    And we visited Belhus woods , near to Turpins lane Hornchurch OMG bags and bags of rubbish , household waste , builder’s rubble etc.
    In a area of outstanding beauty just been turned into yet another RUBBISH dump for people .

  180. R Pickles says:

    Drove along the A12 from East London to Suffolk today and the litter is the worst I have ever seen. I had wanted to show some Australian visitors the beauty of our countryside but instead was utterly ashamed. The road itself was also in a terrible state and I wonder if we are reaching the point of no return. This situation is truly beyond comprehension.

  181. Janet B says:

    I live just off A3 in Thursley apparently an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but since moving here in 2014 I have yet to see the A3 clear of the most horrendous litter. I have written to Waverley Council on several occasions to cite exit roads that have become plagued with litter including A3 itself, but nothing ever gets done. It depresses me every day and I know I am not the only one.

    Not only is it ugly and encourages people to throw out their litter when they see the roads looking so poorly managed, but it directly impacts what could be otherwise a wonderful drive through some stunning countryside.

    It is potentially very dangerous when plastic bags and sheeting are left lying all along the verges just waiting to be whipped up by a strong gust of wind causing them to fly directly in the path of drivers doing speeds of up to 70 mph.

    The A3 is a 67 mile rubbish tip and the councils are just not doing enough! As soon as you exit Jct 10 from M25 it is clearly apparent how little is being done.

    I have 3 sons living in Warwickshire, Maidstone and Billingshurst and nowhere compares with the A3 for litter.

    It is March and now is the time for the roads to be cleaned before the Spring growth truly gets underway.

    If one lane has to be closed on each side to get the A3 cleaned and it directly impacts traffic and so be it. People might think twice about throwing out their litter if their actions have consequences.

    It really is disgusting and our standards in this country are just dropping all the time. Whomever is responsible within Waverley Council, please take action. After 3 years of waiting to see the road clean, it really is about time.

  182. frank goddard says:

    Litter Capital of England.I propose Barnsley Borough.Iihave given.up hope of seeing evidence of any plan to keep verges free from.litter. In fact the problem.is so.bad in.my area that we are moving our business to Doncaster borough where there is an.active policy of litter clearance.Our customers will.no.longer have to.confront such filth as they journey to.our offices. A local Councilor told me they have no.money.He should have added that they have no.pride.

  183. Geoff Sargeant says:

    A38 in Derbyshire still not cleaned … drove along it today and the section East from Alfreton to M1 J28 where the traffic often queues for about a mile is an absolute disgrace, with litter on the verges and further in the undergrowth ,of epidemic proportions . When will this road ever be cleaned ?? Most of the litter looks to have been there for ages and I reckon it is at least a year since I witnessed any cleaning taking place . Perhaps the authorities are waiting until the grass & vegetation start growing again so we don’t notice it . Slip roads & lay-bys towards Derby on same road all still in a similar state ….. so depressing .

  184. Mike Coker says:

    Sadly I feel we are looking at this problem from the wrong end.

    What the UK needs to do is make a fundamental attempt to change the publics attitude to dropping litter.

    I have seen many roads cleaned at great expensive only for the litter to start reappearing the next day. And within a week it looks the same as before.

    1 – A concerted effort needs to be made with children (right through their school years) regarding the wrongs, both socially and environmentally, of littering.

    2 – The government needs to remove all charges and restrictions from waste/tip centres. This would surely be cheaper than having to constantly clear up fly tips?

    3 – Waste transport companies should be made accountable for travelling with unsecured loads.

    4 – The UK should bring in deposits for cans and bottles. I have seen citizens in some European countries actually collecting the few that get discarded for their deposit value. I know we’ve told that this would not work. But we were also told the 5p plastic bag change would not work (within weeks plastic bag usage dropped by 80%).

    5 – A charge could also be made for disposable coffee cups. As these seem to be a major litter problem.

    PS: And lets ban McDonalds from selling take out meals!

    • David Basson says:

      Whilst I agree with you Mike, there is one huge absence: ENFORCEMENT. No clarity about who can enforce and no effort by HMG to ensure this is done. All the persuasion, education and publicity in the world will not stop the tide of litter flowing.

    • Mike

      I agree but there are two issues that need addressing; that of how the national motorway and A road network is cleaned up and maintained weekly. This needs a fundamental rethink by government. Why on earth does Highways England litter pick? They are a strategic body and involved in new builds and maintenance. They do not want to litter pick and cut grass. An independent organisation solely responsible for litter pick and grass cutting and all motorways and A roads would come under their control, no split responsibilities. This idea does not solve the national litter dropping culture but unless we have a radical change of policy, then the UK will, in the short to medium term become a world disgrace.

      Short to long term. We need a proper and practical anti-litter initiative that highlights how damaging litter is to the economy, communities, wildlife and quality of life. A hard hitting campaign showing dead animals suffocated in a glass bottle could help!

      Parental educational;
      Education at school;

      Compulsory for all retailer, service stations railway companies (probably more) to display hard hitting anti-littering messages. At the moment, they won’t because they think it will upset their customers;

      Deposit system on all plastic bottles, cans and other drink containers (I collect on average 60% of these when I litter pick). This government is in denial over the benefits because once again DEFRA thinks the public will react badly. No! It is supported by 60% of consumers. It works everywhere else so why not here. No, this government is waiting for the nation to brainwash itself and stop littering. It will not happen. Old policy, old view for the past 20 years and hasn’t worked to date. They don’t realise that small changes nudges behavioural change and not a nonsense anti-litter strategy that has no teeth.

      It’s about time that service stations and other public areas stop thinking litter picking is beneath them and take pride and show an example and clean their land;

      Commercial lorries should all be covered by law. there is some good practice out there but it is patchy. A change in the law and enforcement would aid the problem of blown rubbish onto a motorway. Highways England talk about health and safety but does not consider a 30 tonne lorry dumping rubble onto a fast motorway a problem. Hypocrisy really.

      Sorry if I have restated some of your ideas but I think all the ideas are sensible.

    • R Pickles says:

      Some very good points Mike. We are the 5th wealthiest country yet our Council’s cannot sort this out. The mind boggles. I also think that if there were dedicated trucks with litter pickers walking ahead, this would help. Also, if each truck had a message in big flashing letters on the back saying ‘DROP LITTER? YOUR JOURNEY WILL BE DELAYED’. This might make those idiots that do drop litter think again.

  185. Diane Purdey says:

    There is an area in Bournemouth which is strewn with Litter. It is on South West trains land. I have sent an email and been given a case number. No reply so I sent another one. Still no reply. What do you suggest? Should I contact the local paper?

    • David Basson says:

      Well done Diane, I would suggest the next step would be threatening them with a Complaint under the EP Act. See this site for what to say, its amazing how fast bodies with a duty respond! Good luck.

  186. Adrian Rudd says:

    Keep up the good work Peter, and let’s try and make this country green & clean, it’s like living in a enormous refuse tip litter flung all over the place !

  187. Brian Aitchison says:

    From – Brian Aitchison –
    New Home Page:
    The new home page is a marked improvement.
    However, although the first displayed screen and
    the photograph following are displayed fully with
    no requirement to scroll to the right, the following
    pages all require use of the scroll bar to access the
    contents of the RHS of the screen. (Browser:
    Firefox Thunderbird)

  188. Colette O'Neill says:

    I live in North Chailey, East Sussex. Moved here from London 3 years ago, shocked and saddened re the amount of litter. Sussex is a rubbish tip. The South Downs are destroyed with rubbish everywhere. The A27 is like a 3rd world highway. The local councils don’t have the funds, highways agency not interested. Contacted local MP who can’t do much either, there is no budget. My local authority has 2 Litter Pickers! They may as well not have any. Eventually decided to just go out and pick the litter myself. Joined a local group last year that my neighbour set up. It’s working well. I am retired and can pick every day on my local roads in the country. We pick as a group regularly.
    Not only do we pick in our own parish, but go out also. There is absolutely no point in lobbying your mp/council, nothing will happen. This needs government backing/funding/involvement. STop talking and complaining about it and get out there with a High Viz vest and start picking. I joined the recent Keep Britain Tidy Campaign Spring Clean over the weekend and picked outside my parish. It surprises me why everyone just whinges but does not do anything. If everyone just looked at their own neighbourhood/street/road and picked the litter it would be a big help. Litter attracts litter!!! The root of the cause is education! More PC’s should be going into schools and advising children re looking after our environment and the perils of litter. We have a local PC who visits schools in our area. I am up to getting on to the A27 and picking there. Anyone else out there willing???

    • Mark Godfrey says:

      I agree with you and children should be taught at a early age about litter and rubbish and to help our once green and pleasant land , people have all lost responsibility and have no longer any pride in our once beautiful country once the Envy of the world now just turning into a huge rubbish tip , the future will be even worse with government and council cutbacks

  189. Piers says:

    I’ve just posted this letter to Andrea Leadsom, 4 MPs in Kent and all the directors of Highways England.

    Dear …….,

    Last weekend I set off on a weekend break to Kent with my two children by car. We live in East London and as we drove though the City fringe, feeling excited by the prospect of a few days in the countryside, I talked of Kent and described it as being ‘The Garden of England’.

    As we reached the A2 I was quite astounded by the amount of litter along the road’s edge, not a small amount but literally piles of rubbish! It was disgusting and I felt ashamed. It went on and on without stopping, along the A2 to the M2 and along the A229 to the M20 until we reached our destination. Each lay-by, roadside, junction, verge and roundabout, a continuous collection of cans, bottles, plastics, paper bags, carrier bags, car tyres and discarded car parts and above this, streaming ribbons of dirty plastic entwined in the branches of trees, billowed in the wind. It felt quite apocalyptic and far from the notion of Kent that I had been describing to my children.

    I’ve travelled far and wide, through Asia, North America and Europe and have never seen so much human waste as I saw that weekend whilst driving though the English countryside. It was utterly dispiriting. It gave the impression that we don’t care, or we’ve simply given up. For the younger generations to be surrounded by these scenes of neglect one can understand them thinking it normal to dispose of their rubbish along the roadside.

    It’s obvious that immediate action is needed, not just councils cleaning up the roadsides but an understanding of how and why this mentality has developed, plus public education in simple social responsibility. We all know that budgets are tight but if we do nothing now it will no doubt cost more in the future and cost dearly in revenue from tourism, as who in their right mind would want to spend their holidays in a rubbish dump?

    Yours sincerely,

    To the Highways England lot I included a suggestion that they add a ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ message to their overhead variable message signs. If you know of any other people that could do with a letter please let me know.



    • Piers

      Good for you and thanks for doing that! I live in Gravesend Kent and have watched the litter pile up over the years. I have lobbied everybody I can think of at high level and even my MP Adam Holloway is now taking the side of Highways England. I apologise for the state of the Dustbin of England but even my German friends discuss the litter problem with me when they visit. Highways England are ignoring the public when you write to them and government still thinks Highways England is doing a brilliant job and it is all the problem of the public. I laugh when I get to the Dartford Crossing and see the sign ‘Welcome to the Garden of England’ only to be met with an obscene amount of litter tangled around the sign. It sums up Kent to the letter. The roadside litter problem could be resolved with a proper dedicated organisation that has sole litter collection responsibilities but that will never happen. The UK is now an obscene linear dustbin and full acceptance goes to Highways England and the Government for not implementing a plan of regular litter clearance and grass cutting, any leadership on a national anti-litter campaign and the refusal to implement one good anti-litter measure that would stop plastic bottle and can litter, that of a deposit system. Even when you make suggestions to this Tory government, it is met with total ignorance to the facts. Please spread the word and pass this website onto as many people you know who are fed up with the disgraceful litter problem. Remember, the UK is the fifth richest economy in the world!

      • Piers says:

        Hi Brian,

        Thanks for your reply. Just to cheer you up a bit, on the way back to London we went up the M20 and it was remarkably tidy! Just the odd bit of litter, so I imagine that something has been done there quite recently. I come from Worcestershire originally and so travel quite frequently up the M40 and often see people picking up rubbish. So it’s not all doom and gloom and I’m sure something can be done in time. I think we need someone like David Attenborough to champion the cause plus a country wide petition.

        All the best,


        • Piers

          Just imagine if we had a separate national organisation that dedicated itself to litter removal and grass cutting! It is good to hear about the M20 but Aone, the private contractor to Highways England only litter pick adhoc and waits until the motorway gets to Grade D (extensive amount of litter) then they go out and clear the worst. That’s the service the UK is receiving from government, Highways England and their private contractors. I always ask myself why Westminster Council, Kensington and Chelsea and London Transport manage to have litter free boroughs and transport? Because it is properly funded and nobody wants to go to a dirty tourist city and travel on a third world tube network so why is their no wider economic benefit to maintain our national motorway and A road network to the same high standards? Because it costs money and the government thinks the wider benefits are not essential to the economy in terms of adverse tourist effects, damage to the environment, damage to wildlife and damage to the image of the UK in general from foreign visitors. Bottom line is, if you live in an affluent area you deserve clean. If you don’t then put up and shut and live with it! And that’s what we are doing for now.

  190. Paul James says:

    I’m sure this has been commented on before, but the verges adjoining the A27 Brighton bypass and north up the A23 to Bolney and beyond get more and more littered each week with little or no attempt to do anything about it. The westbound section of the A27 from the Hollingbury through to the A23 beggars belief and is a real eyesore though much the same could be said of the whole of the Brighton bypass from Falmer through to the Shoreham flyover. The various sliproads off the A27 into Brighton, Hove, Portslade and Shoreham are also in a bad state and urgently need cleaning. I’m sure H & S will be trotted out as the inevitable excuse for the lack of any litter picking but there are laybys and broad grassy verges that are strewn with litter and could easily be cleaned up. With the holiday season and the Brighton Festival coming up, is this really the face of Brighton & Hove that we want to portray to visitors to the area?

    • DavidG says:

      Hi Paul
      I drove through there a couple of weeks ago and was equally appalled. I reported the litter to Brighton Council but haven’t been back since so I’m unable to see if it made any difference……


    The area at the bottom on the Bluebell Hill, A229 is generally heavily littered between the Cobtree roundabout to the Running Horse roundabout and includes the associated slip roads.

    I submitted my litter abatement notice on Tuesday having been pushed from one authority to another. Good news, Maidstone Borough Council spent to nights removing litter from all of the verges and roundabouts and collected 100No sacks. The roads were cleared under a traffic management system in conjunction with Kent Highways.

    I thank Maidstone Borough Council for their efforts and prompt action and they have agree to discuss how best to maintain the area regular at a Highways meeting due to be held next week. In their response, the official dealing with my complaint mentioned the words ‘future improvement in cleaning’. I responded by stating that I have seen this phrase so many times in context on litter and I would rather see ‘the standard will be maintained at Grade B’. The word ‘improvement’ simply means an improvement of what was and hence the regime of cleaning will never improve.

    The area I complained about had to be completed under a traffic management system due to health and safety and I realise it costs money to do so but the fact the operatives collected 100No sacks of litter to what is a small area says to me that this area has not be done for a year at least. I asked when it was last done but that question was deflected but they have told me that cleaning will happen in April/May but what of the future?

    Too many organisations and red tape that is partly causing why key areas of the network are being ignored and cleaned only as a reaction.

    • Derek Gilman says:


      This is excellent news. The Litter Abatement Notice seems to be having an effect. I have never had a positive result from KCC or Maidstone BC, particularly regarding the state of the A249 over Detling and down to Stockbury. Perhaps this is the way forward. Are there any costs involved in issuing these Notices?

      • Derek

        No. I simple email the waste department with an email titled URGENT LITTER ABATEMENT NOTICE EPA 1990 then state ‘I hereby serve notice on Maidstone Borough Council under Section 91 of the Environment Protection Act 1990. You need to briefly explain the area and location where the litter is prevalent and state they have 7 days to respond. In my situation, Maidstone responded by stating that the area concerned needed overnight possession and traffic management to clear the litter but they gave me a positive response so my law you need to give them sufficient time to action and remedy. In my experience, some try to embroil you in the technicalities of clearing the litter by stating that the section of road is fast and needs careful traffic management or they need to speak to Kent Highways; all fair points but in reality they should be doing this as a matter of course. Bottom line is, it costs the council money.

        So in summary, email the council as above, go in hard and don’t budge and state the area that needs clearance.

        Send your email to johnedwards@maidstone.gov.uk waste management and copy the CEO alisonbroom@maidstone.gov.uk

        The litter abatement is a powerful and free tool against an authority and carries a threat that for them could lead to court costs and public embarrassment. Costs to you will only come if you decide to pursue the litter abatement through the courts if the authority refuses to action. I have been successful for many years issuing abatements and all authorities have responded positively. Not in my nature to be Mr Nasty but in terms of litter this is the only tool UK residents have to get litter cleared.

        Good luck and I’m sure you will be successful!

        • Derek Gilman says:


          Many thanks for the detailed info and advice. Will give it a try if there is no response to my badgering to date.

    • Piers says:

      I’m afraid I drove down the A229 going South from the M2 to the M20 last weekend and it was disgusting. Perhaps they’ve just done the Northern side? I’ve just posted my observations to the local MPs and Highways England Directors.

      All the best,


      • Piers

        They did the section going into Maidstone so you probably wouldn’t see the improvement. The A229 from the M2 to the M20 is litter picked by Tonbridge and Malling Council and in their defence they normally clean the road regularly and including the slip roads and central reservations. The laughable thing is to this section of road. Kent Nature helps to manage the verges for wildlife and wildflower planting but I always ask myself why a mouse or hedgerow would want to drink Coca Cola or the discarded scrapped from a MacDonald’s box?

  192. Andy Slade says:

    Hi all,

    Unfortunately the country is being overwhelmed by a mentality of don’t care won’t care, it’s not littering my space lets just throw it out the window, dump it on somebody else space which all too often is the roadside.

    I live in Wiltshire and the A350 and A4 trunk roads are a disgrace with years of detritus ribboning these roads and others. Junction 17 of the M4 must have several tons of paper and plastic waste in the verges. I’m sure our County Council and others must just sit there and wait for the Spring growth to cover up the evidence instead of using the winter months when it would be more cost efficient to remove.

    We are certainly the dirty man of Western Europe. What holidaymakers and visitors to the country think of us can’t be very complimentary. In fact in break from talks and discussions with a Swedish company at work recently. I quote an observation from one of them as “why do you guys have some much crap eveywhere, does nobody clear it up”. I was totally embarrassed by his observation and said it was a British disease. This negative impression to potential investors to the country must me beginning to cost our economy dearly.

    I have complained to WCC and Swindon BCC several times and have been quoted of late in The Swindon Advertiser over disgraceful conditions in a public car park in Swindon. It was third world and after a drive into Swindon on the A3102 via junction 16 of the M4 to witness the welcoming bed mattress in the verge now sprouting its own vegetation because it has been there so long.

    The problem needs a complete re-think by central government. Existing fines are totally inadequate. A recent prosecution in Wiltshire for fly tipping resulted in a total fine of £70 to the two guilty offenders plus costs of £260. It is a risk I suspect they are willing to take again. They should be looking at fines nearer £1k at least to headline the deterrent to others.

    Our resources for litter clearance has not kept apace with the fast food and coffee shop economy and its associated litter problem. I hate to suggest a penalty tax to this industry as it will probably encourage their customers to drop even more litter on the basis they are paying a premuim for its clearance by others but something needs to be done.

    The whole problem depresses me and probably the majority of the population. Is it ever a political highlight of any election campaign. No but it would get my vote if one of the parties made it part of their manifesto.

    Andy Slade

    • Derek Gilman says:


      Agree and sympathise with your comments. It is now depressing to drive along our motorways, A roads – and increasingly country roads – and have to contend with the filth and detritus which is gradually accumulating to such an extent, that short of a massive industrial clean up, it will be impossible to remove. I dread to think what visitors must think. There seems to be such a general apathy to the situation, not only from the general public but especially from Highways England and the government ministries. But take heart – you are not alone. This site reflects a growing groundswell of opinion on the subject and Peter Silverman is doing his damndest to move things forward. Keep chipping away and complaning – the Litter Abatement Notices mentioned in previous comments seem to be the way forward.

      • Derek

        Your last point regarding litter abatement is extremely important. If everybody concerned emailed their councils and HE then the message to the politicians would start to get through. Litter Abatement was added for a reason and it is powerful yet people seem put off using it. Being an ex-civil servant, no government department, local authority or county council likes any adverse publicity. It is seen as a failure and not good for public image and more importantly to them, could question an administrations abilities to govern.

  193. Rod edwards says:

    As a long standing customer of HE with extensive knowledge of the UK road network, over 20 years driving experience and over 1million miles covered, I am perfectly qualified to provide an accurate and informed comment on our roads as follows: A never ending strip of undulating, pothold tarmac, hemmed in on either side by a conveyor belt of assorted bile. Everything from decomposing animals, shredded tyres, parts of cars, articles of clothing and furniture, traffic cones,discarded signs and various fast food containers. Laybys with insufficient, overflowing bins spewing out their contents onto the ground below. Bottles of urine glistening in the Sun while trees stand eerily adorned with a variety of plastic bags and sheeting. Occassional sightings of workmen in flouresent jackets with litter pickers pathetically picking up bits of trash discarded from car windows which in turn have been mown over by another workman on a motorised grass cutting machine. Like bits of confetti they blow down the motorway spredding the infection even further. No serious penalties or warning signs to discourage the perpetrators of this environmental crime. A terrible inditement of our society and the ineptitude and couldnt care attitude of our lawmakers and politicians. Driving in the UK is a frustrating, stressful and above all a most unpleasant experience – unless you want to pay nearly twelve pounds and have a thirty minute return trip along the M6 toll road.

    • Rod

      Sums up the state of the network and a failed government body and government who don’t want to get to grips with the issues. I had a problem explaining to my Germans friends when they asked about the crap on our motorways. I do not the Scotland tourist industry is suffering now around the Lochs where litter is so bad that foreign tourists come once they do not return. It was highlighted on a Sky documentary.

      Angela Leadsom and her long awaited National Anti-Litter Strategy will be a real radical document produced by DEFRA. More of the lets wait and see, personal responsibility, work with our partners etc etc. But nothing on a deposit system on plastic bottles and cans, something that even Coca Cola is supporting now because they realise their containers and packaging are a major part of the litter problem.

  194. This is the pits and demonstrates that Highways England couldn’t care less about its’ own land and assets and worst still the Area 4 private contractor, AOne is being left to they own devices.

    The photograph is a balancing pond that drains the A2 in North Kent. The balancing pond is the site for many wading birds throughout the year but look what it has turned into. I agree that flytipping shouldn’t have happened but this is a locked enclosure. I am perplexed as to why the flytipped rubbish has not been removed and the amount of blown plastic litter clinging to the trees and shrubs is disgraceful. Tell me that if Highways England cannot maintain an asset then litter picking is way down the list of interest. I had to email my MP, Highways England and the CEO at Highways England to shown them just what is happening in reality.


  195. Saraih Jones says:

    Im so glad I have found your web page. I felt I was alone in the battle! I wanted to let you know of the frustration and time it took for me to find who was responsible for a certain part of a road near to where I live. This one very small stretch of road (A46 in Leicestershire) is apparently managed by 3 different councils. Trying to get one of them to clear up the disgusting litter alongside took me days of constant phone calls and emails. I am lucky in that I don’t have to work so I was able to spend time pursuing this but I can’t imagine many people being able to do this which is why I think they end up getting away with it. I am going to write to my MP for Charnwood using some of your suggested comments.

  196. Jane Goodger says:

    What does it take to get litter cleared from our roads?? I have been reporting litter on the A1 between the Black Cat and Buckden roundabouts for months and have been pushed from pillar to post by Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire Councils. The litter in question is atrocious – accumulated over a number of years – on both verges and central reservation see dash cam video https://youtu.be/LrO26Jh_2ak
    Huntingdonshire did advise a while back that the central reservation is the responsibility of HE but they now advise (after many chasing emails) that they are concerned about the safety of their contractors re the verges too and so ‘I’ need to contact HE. I have contacted them tonight – BUT why is it my responsibility to join things up? Why can’t they contact HE and so fulfill their collective responsibilities?
    I’ve had a similar fiasco with a fly tip in Lincolnshire where two of my local councils have been arguing about who’s responsibility it is to clear – and seemingly incapable of speaking to each other!
    I despair.

  197. Andrew Hemmings says:

    The A12 between the M25 and Colchester is an absolute disgrace. The last time I saw so much mess and litter was when I travelled in Eastern Europe many years ago. It is deeply shameful. The same litter sits there for week after week.


    Just noticed what looks like a pile of rubbish inside a balancing pond area owned by Highways England and litter stuck to their fence line. Will be investigating this morning with photographs and if it is their rubbish then another Notice will be sent. Area concerned is the balancing pond located along Hog Lane, Northfleet, Kent to the south and bounded by the A2 to the north. It’s amazing how Highways England contractors cannot be bothered to maintain and keep an enclosed area clear of rubbish. And this is MAINTENANCE, their core duties.

  199. carren says:

    The litter problem on our roads is disgusting!! Along the A14 and A46 to cheltenham is shocking and embarrassing, when did we become pigs. This needs to be sorted, maybe stronger fines against littering as well as naming and shaming people who don’t pick up after their dogs. Is there a petition we can sign to clean up our roads?

  200. Fred harris says:

    I have reported 110 abandoned metal frames used for road works signs on the A14 from Thrapston to the A14/ M 11 junction.
    There are more as the road circumnavigates Cambridge. Down towards Rougham thee is a line of filthy cones on the Eastbound Carriage way ,clearly forgotten about.
    There are many more frames,sandbags etc all around Wellingborough were I live that I have reported them all to Northants CC. What infuriates me is that they the all cost money, our money! Perhaps if it came out of the management saleries they would make sure contractors would clear up when work is completed!

    What inf

    • Brian Reynolds says:


      Simply issue a litter Abatement Notice on the local authorities responsible. I have just issued one to Maidstone Borough Council, the county town of Kent. The roads leading into the town are choked with litter. Had one response stating ‘they are sorry it has come to this ‘ etc etc. I feel like replying with a few sharp words but I have made the point that had it been regularly litter picked I wouldn’t need to issue an Abatement. The Notice is a very powerful tool.

  201. Katie says:

    The Kidbrooke Interchange on the A2 is an utter disgrace. We’ve had no luck in getting a response from Greenwich council or TFL despite numerous emails and letters. It seems to be getting worse and worse. I can’t seem to understand why the council don’t have any pride in their area. Apparently it’s a TFL rod that Greenwich Council should clean. I’m tempted to get out there and do it myself!

    • Katie

      The road leading into and out of Maidstone is heavily littered near to the roundabouts and it is ignore because Maidstone Borough Council have to close the roads and clean overnight. Not my problem, the law simply states that roads shall be clean, nothing about cleaned if money is available or don’t clean if the access is difficult. I served a litter abatement yesterday and it seems to be working but I will see if the cleaning is carried out soon.

      I tried to push Greenwich years ago to litter pick but was ignore but I never served a litter abatement notice. I would serve one and state the areas to be litter picked and their responsibilities under the EPA 1990. Keep it simple. Email the CEO at Greenwich Council. The threat works because they know it could lead to a court hearing and that would be embarassing for a public body.

    • lorraine says:

      Hi Sally/Brian

      I live further down the A2 at falconwood and have been complaining to both the council and transport for london about the volume of littler on the road and also have had no responce from either. Do you know who we should serve the litter abaitment too regarding the road? As far as I understand TLF is responible for the road and Bexley and Greenwich Council run up the the road, they use this to their advantage passing the blame between each other so you go round in circles till you give up.


      • Hello

        If TfL are the owners of the A2 in London then I’d serve notice on the CEO or the Mayor of London. I have a feeling Bexley and Greenwich as tasked with litter picking and cleaning and therefore in this situation is the same scenario as Kent. Kent County Council has the strategic control in terms of overall major maintenance but litter picking is down to the local authorities at that is where I normally serve notice.

        I would serve the notice on the Bexley CEO and Greewich CEO and copy the Mayor into the sent email. Nobody can remove themselves from responsibility. The reason why they want to ignore you and deflect your complain is because it will cost them time, resources and money cleaning the A2. The law does not mention ‘clean the roads only when funds are available’.

        Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council gave me the run around this week and then I serve Notice and action is forthcoming. Hopefully in my case the overnight road closures will take place and year of litter removed. I have stated that this is not the end of the problem and if monthly cleaning isn’t forthcoming then I will enforce the litter abatement again. One thing councils hate is the threat of legal action. It is costly and embarrasing to them so remember that. the law is on your side with this one. Litter abatements are a powerful tool against litter neglect!

  202. CS knowles says:

    Thank you for this informative website, I was glad at least not to feel alone in noticing the litter on motorways.
    I travel regularly from Norwich to Kent and the worst roads are the M11 and A11.
    It is noticeably much worse on the stretches of road following service stations and at lay-bys where, if there are bins, they are overflowing all over the roadside.
    Service stations used to only sell petrol and sweets but are now like mini supermarkets selling everything including fast food.
    Can they not be made to at least display signs about fines for littering?
    I feel the worse it get the more impossible it will be to clear it up.
    Rubbish includes masses of tyres, car exhaust pipes, plastic sheets in the trees and countless dead animals. It’s pretty depressing.
    I appreciate that in these times of uncertainty, councils are strapped for cash but I feel our tourist visitors will go elsewhere if we seem like such a filthy lot!

    • Simon Gerard says:

      I 100% agree with all the comments on this site. Yesterday I flew back from a business trip to Munich and the contrast was remarkable. I drove for at least 25 miles along the autobahn and hardly saw any litter at all. In contrast on arrival at Heathrow and driving home along the M25, M40, M42 and M50 I was ashamed at the state of our roads.

      Clearly we need to have a zero-tolerance approach to litter, with fines, education and advertising, BUT we also have to clean it up quickly. I don’t understand why Highways England have not invested in a litter vacuum machine to quickly and efficiently clean up the mess on verges and central reservations. With a rolling roadblock approach this would be quick, safe and cost effective, allowing minimal disruption and increased cleaning frequencies.

  203. Sally says:

    Just written to Theresa May about the disgraceful state of the roads and asking who is accountable for doing the job and why are they not being performance managed, anything is worth a try!

    • Well done Sally! And keep coming back to this website with all of your observations of littered motorways and locations. Peter needs all the evidence and support possible including sharing of this website with friends and family who are fed up living on a dustbin.

  204. Paul Hunt says:

    Just drove from Nottingham to Bamburgh in Nortumberland and back. Not surprisingly, the M1, A1(M) and A1 are all in a disgraceful state. Where is the accountability of the Chief Execs of HE and the district councils? The link to yesterday’s Daily Telegraph article on these ‘quangocrats’ really puts it all in perspective. Third from the top of the salary league table is a certain Mr Jim O’Sullivan, Chief Executive, Highways Agency, on a salary £334,999. Does anybody on this blog think we’re getting value for money?

    • Paul

      The answer is no, we, the taxpaying public are not getting value for money from civil servants such as Jim O’Sullivan CEO, Highways England. As an ex-civil servant who worked for central government, even at my middle grade I needed to demonstrate value for money for every project under my control regardless of value and size. I was penalised at the end of year in my annual report if I failed to deliver. And this is where the problem if litter collections comes. There is no monitoring, goals and deliverables at Highways England to grade their performance on how they perform and maintain clean roads. What we have is the CEO turning a blind eye and passing the buck onto their private contractors (funded by the taxpayer), who in turn know that nobody at Highways England HQ gives a damn. My dealings with Highways England/Agency in the past were one of an organisation fixed in their ideas, not interested in public concerns and pure arrogance. Highways England and their private contractors are taking taxpayers money and not delivering proper maintenance and do not recognise the Environment Protection Act 1990. That’s my opinion. Shame on Jim O’Sullivan for being such a weak leader of such a strategic nation public organisation.

  205. Mike Pease says:

    The M56 from the M60 (Manchester) junction 1 all the way to junction 15 is carpeted in litter in the central reservation. Not surprising as I witnessed a waste transport vehicle with rubbish flying off the top. I came off at the same junction and later I saw it turn off where there was a sign to a waste site. When is the Highways Agency going to tackle this? The HE contractors could spend weeks or months cleaning this only for a single lorry with an unsecured load to obliterate it again in the course of 1 journey of 45 minutes!

  206. James Vincent Miller says:

    M3 junction 9 to 6 is at Grade D, formal complaint raised to HE. Also worth mentioning that from Basingstoke to Gatwick (m3, m25 and m23) the route was mainly grade A or B, somewhat surprising. Final point, I have submitted a freedom of information request for past three years Highways England litter complaint numbers by area and month. Will share the results in due course.

  207. Have a look at the link and see the litter vacuum in Australia. I suggested a similar machine several years ago to Highways England and they dismissed it because they said they trialled a similar machine and it clogged with plastic bottles and tins. The fact it, if the verges were cut and maintained to a short standard this machine would really speed up litter picking and if awkward items blown further up embankments or down needed collecting them these could be collected by the normal means. Strikes me that Highways England are totally closed to any public advice or suggestion to solving the litter problem on verges.

    • Derek Gilman says:


      With the depressingly high amount of accumulated litter on most stretches of our roads and motorways, this machine would probably last a few seconds before grinding to a halt with overload. Agree with you that more frequent litter clearance would help but the situation has deteriorated so much over the years that it will take a gargantuan effort to get rid of it!

      • Derek

        But not an impossible task. The government and Highways England have brainwashed the nation to think this all because it costs money and investment that they don’t want to make. Even Margaret Thatcher had a problem with litter hence why she passed the Environment Protection Act 1990. Mrs May and Co see this Act as piffling nonsense!

  208. John Robson says:

    The amount of debris and rubbish in the verges of the Sussex stretch of the M23/A23 is getting to dreadful levels, quite revolting, especially around the service stations, lay-bys and slip roads.

    This is such a beautiful part of the country and I often have visitors from elsewhere. It’s embarrassing when they comment on the piles of rubbish.

    Anyone know how I report this?

  209. A Highways Inspector writes says:

    I work as a highways inspector on one of Scotland’s trunk road units. I haven’t done it for very long but I am incredibly proud of my network and the work I do to keep these essential transport arteries safe to use, comfortable to drive on and nice to look at.

    None of you know who I am. I am just another yellow jacket and a set of flashing lights but tens of thousands of you judge my work every day. I am very aware of that.

    Among dealing with surface defects and drainage issues – the daily battle against road side litter is the one task I can just never complete. Every day I take notes and photographs identifying hot spots and areas where I can get our operatives out to lift the litter.

    At first there was some resistance, no one wants to shut a lane “just for litter” so I ensured that where lanes had to be shut for some other reason – those who weren’t involved in the primary activities within the closure were deployed with black bags to lift the litter. We make the most of our lane/road closures including picking up debris.

    Now our unit is considered Scotland’s best for being relatively litter free and having a excellent response time to removing where it accumulates. That is something that not just myself, but everyone in our team is immensely proud of.

    I know this is a website that desperately wants to highlight the issue and for that I wish you luck. Many people who work in the road maintenance industry are not as passionate as they should be. You should treat your roads like you would tend to your own garden – with care.

    My point is that; fear not – some of us actually do our jobs properly and prove that picking litter is not an impossible task.

    • Thank you so much for your comments. I do appreciate that many people who work on the front line are as unhappy as the rest of us about the state of our motorways and trunk roads.

      The problem does not lie with you but with our governments who fail to grasp the problem and ensure that the necessary resources are put in place and properly managed.

      I would appreciate your thoughts on the following questions:

      1. Do you think that it would make more sense that instead cleaning a section when it is adjudged to have fallen below standard (reactive cleansing) each motorway should cleansed from end to end on a regular basis (regular cleansing)?

      2. If this were to happen would it be achieved more efficiently by instead of coning off the hard shoulder, or if no hard shoulder the inside lane, the operatives where protected by one or even two blocking vehicles? Obviously safety is paramount.

    • Hello Highways Inspector

      Nobody here is doubting the operatives were are stuck with the unenviable task of picking up the revolting discards that people are too lazy to bag and bin. I have littered picked on the M2 to sample for myself just what it is like to do the job next to fast moving traffic and it is not nice. So thank you all you do to stem the tide of litter. The annoyance of Highways England and the Government is their lack of priority and resources given to the massive litter problem. The piles that are collected are due to no regular attendance and also to the fact that Highways England wait for motorways to reach Grade C- or D before any thing is done; reactive instead of proactive litter picking. The Grade is only ever maintained at C. Litter picking needs to be split from Highways England and given to an independent body that is independently monitored and all motorways and A roads can and should be cleaned to Grade A and litter picked at Grade B to get them back to Grade A. I have just driven down the A2, M2 and A299 in Kent and the litter is off the record in many locations and it will stay like it because the management within Highways England has instructed that standard in my opinion. It is based upon budgets and cuts and we are seeing this now. Litter removal and maintaining clean motorways is not hard but the government and Highways England have brainwashed the public into thinking it cannot be solved. It can, through a system of collection. The wider issue of stopping litter needs to be done through government leadership and a public awareness campaign but this will not happen because we have a government and Highways England who don’t see any benefit. One thing I will add about Highways England in Kent; they are not even carrying out routine maintenance on gullies, central reservations and removing years of graffiti from the bridge abutments. Question is, what is the UK taxpayer paying a private contractor for?

  210. Emily Bell says:

    Looking down on the M2 from the A229 road bridge looking west. In the distance, I can see a large tarmac triangular central reservation with a nice pile of accumulated litter at the end of triangle where it meets the soft landscaping. The pile must have been there for about a year! It could be safely litter picked because the area is totally protected by crash barriers and extremely wide. Highways England are a waste of space and lazy! As for their general maintenance. They aren’t even doing that in this area in question. The area has Butterfly bushes growing through the tarmac and the road debris hasn’t been removed for years. Probably another excuse as to why they can’t, won’t, don’t want to or too dangerous excuse from a pathetic Body called Highways England. Add profit to litter and their contractors would be out they everyday picking up litter.

    • Derek Gilman says:


      This ‘pile’ has been there for years and is spreading down to the Medway Bridge. Complaints to Highways England meet with the usual response in ‘officialese’. Perhaps a Litter Abatement Order is required but don’t know about the costs/bureaucracy involved and the success rate. Perhaps Peter could provide a step by step ‘idiots guide’ on this, together with template?

  211. Derek Gilman says:

    Who do I complain to?? Amidst all the confusion about litter clearance responsibility for motorways, trunk roads, minor roads split between Highways England (HE), local councils etc etc…WHO is responsible for the ‘bits in between’? In other words, the slip roads on/off the motorways and major trunk roads and subsequent roundabouts? To give an example, I left Ashford (Kent) to join the M20 at Jn 9. The approach to the junction and subsequent stretch of the M20 were ‘relatively’ litter free. But the slip road joining the M20 (westbound) was absolutely encrusted with years of litter, debris and filth. Obviously not cleared at all. It’s almost as though these sections are totally ignored. Another recently visited grot spot was the Jn 29 exit (northbound) off the M25 (SP Romford/Southend). All slip roads/roundabout areas were like rubbish tips. In a typical case of HE ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude, a broken ‘end of motorway’ sign off the M25 southbound had been replaced but the damaged sign just left there to rest in peace among the weeds, plastic bottles and drink cans.
    I do sometimes wonder whether a ‘mass trespass’ type action is required, where willing volunteers armed with sacks and litter pickers descend on these grot spots and incur the wrath of the authorities concerned. Threats of potential prosecutions and ensuing publicity might just result in some kind of government response – as with the original mass trespass on Kinder Scout. Otherwise, we continue to email and complain…and to what end?

    • Derek

      I really sympathise with you and your frustration. I’ve been lobbying for years and even the complaints to my MP for Gravesham, Adam Holloway have gone full circle. He receives a standard response from Highways England about the litter problem, safety of collecting but that is it. Your only avenue is to submit a litter abatement notice to Highways England stating the littered areas and if possible, with photographs but not necessary. They are legally obliged to remove the litter within 7 days of the notice. But this in itself doesn’t help to solve the litter problem. It is my opinion that Highways England are deliberately allowing the litter crisis to happen so it engages the public to complain to government, therefore I feel we all need to embarrass the UK into action. At the moment, and this has been the case for at least 12 years, all governments in the UK have been in denial about the litter problem and now it has turned into a toxic problem. In my opinion, this site is the best site to constantly add comments and highlight EVERY section of littered motorway. Peter Silverman is doing a great job coordinating the lobbying at the highest level. Now we all need to support this lobbying with our evidence. hence why it is important to let everybody you know about this website and have their say. Government can only deny and hide for so long.

      • Derek Gilman says:


        I agree that Peter is doing a fantastic job. It would be good to see how effective the Litter Abatement Notices are and helpful if we had an ‘idiots guide’ on how to go about issuing them and the costs/bureaucracy involved, as emailing HE England or the Dept for Roads and Transport is a disheartening exercise, with little in the way of positive response.

        • Brian Reynolds says:


          They are very effective. Having been a civil servant, no Department likes adverse public publicity. Even the idea of going to court is not good for them. The process of Abatement is simple and there are guidelines on this site to the right but I normally email the relevant Body, in this case Highways England in Guildford with the title ‘Litter Abatement Notice EPA 1990’ and in the body of the text you state the area(s) of litter defacement and state they have 7 days to respond. Don’t bother with their private contractor because they are not the cleansing authority, it’s Highways England who has the responsibility under law. If you have many areas of defacement then I would suggest issuing individual Notices for each area as this will avoid confusion and it is confusion that Highways England loves to try and tangle the public in.

          • Jane Goodger says:

            Hi there, I have looked at the template for litter abatement but still find it a little tricky to follow. Is there any chance you can send or post an example of one you’ve actually completed and sent? Also, are there any personal implications etc. that you’re aware of re issuing one?

    • David Basson says:

      Derek, the slip roads are the HE responsibility – they will duck and dive but its for THEM to clear them. Off the motorway (ie. the verges and roundabouts on top) its usually the local authority in whose area this lies. Don’t hold back in emailing or threatening them with an EPA Complaint. It brings speedy results. David

  212. Karen Bell says:

    A2 and M2 between Gravesend Kent and Faversham Kent.

    Yes another beautifully littered journey to Faversham with friends from Germany. Totally shamed again. Not sure whether Highways England understands ‘slip roads and litter picking’ and ‘central reservation needs regularly litter picking’.

    On the return journey we exited the M2 onto the A229 Blue Bell Hill junction 3, I think. Litter, litter, litter along each side of the slip roads. Tins, plastic bottles Costa coffee cups, wrappings. Have we really come to the point where everybody doesn’t care and Government would rather turn a blind eye? Welcome to Dustbin Kent.

    • Derek Gilman says:

      Hi Karen

      Have also complained about the eastbound exit off the M2 to Sittingbourne/Maidstone (A249) which is appalling. The Grain/Gillingham exit travelling westbound is also unbelievably filthy. They (Highways England) are contacting their local depot to investigate (don’t hold your breath). You are not alone in feeling like this. Just hope that the more complaints received, the more Highways England will react. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that, as a nation, we are increasingly becoming a couldn’t care less litter dropping people with little care and pride in our surroundings.

  213. Karen Coombs says:

    Hi- my husband and I picked up 20 bags of litter last Saturday morning from a lay by in Foston, Derbyshire.
    Most of it was plastic bottles and European packaging, so,I imagine that it is the lorry drivers who park up and can’t be bothered to use the bin provided. Are lorry drivers the worst offenders? I don’t see many car drivers chucking litter in the day, so it could be the lorry drivers at other times of the day. If lorry dépôts installed deposit return banks for plastic bottles, that would be a great help.


    Early days but the positive signs of a cleaner environment and cleaner highways could be coming. In the light of the leaked Coca Cola document that stated the company would ‘Fight Back’ any introduction of a deposit system on drinks containers in the UK. Today, Coca Cola has done a complete U turn and will be supporting a deposit system in Scotland and hopefully this will now make it easier for DEFRA to rubber stamp it. The fact is, pressure from the public has been growing to introduce a deposit system for many years and some 60% of UK residents support one.

    The link explains Coca Cola’s U turn. It may be a small change but hopefully if the whole of the UK embrace the system it will have massive visual and recycling difference.


    • James Vincent Miller says:

      This is a very promising development and one I would never have expected.

      • Brian Reynolds says:


        Same here but the arguments against having been building. The government has the embarrassment of stating they want plastic recycling to increase quickly but no solutions, public opinion has changed recently due to the increase awareness of national litter problem, marine and ocean pollution is extensive. It’s shameful that this government has bowed to pressure from Coca Cola and last week virtually dismissed a deposit system. Now they are in an awkward position in a U-turn in the light of Coca Cola’s new decision. Just reinforces the fact the UK government is protectionist towards corporates at the expense of the electorate, their wishes and the protection of the environment. Deposits ate a no brained and having regularly used the German one, it’s brilliant and not one scrap of bottle and tin litter on the Autobahn or residential streets, railway tracks and undergrounds. I still think DEFRA will still try and find excuses, that’s how they operate but it will happen. Cleaner highways in 2020?


    I travelled from Torquay Devon to Stansted Airport on Friday February 17th starting on the A120, Then M5 M25 and finally M11.

    It was basically like driving through a rubbish tip! Rubbish EVERYWHERE both sides of the road.

    I drove for over 4 hours and hardly noticed our beautiful countryside. Neither did I see ANYONE tackling the problem WHY.

    Is there any budget to collect the rubbish? Maybe it is time for motorway tolls to help maintain our roads.

    Final suggestion can offenders assist for free as community service? or for local volunteers to help? I for one would be willing for free too volunteer help.

    • Anne Jolley says:

      Re your comment on use of local volunteers, I couldn’t agree more Helen. If only someone in every Parish in the country would organise and co-ordinate regular volunteer litter-picking along all their smaller roads, it surely would help? However the amount of rubbish currently seen along our busy, fast main roads and motorways has now reached a level well beyond the ability of most volunteers, and the authorities legally responsible should be clearing it up regularly.

      Incidentally, the “Keep Britain Tidy” organisation is publicising a ‘Spring Clean 2017’ event on 3rd-5th March, (www.greatbritishspringclean.org.uk ), should anyone feel like getting involved.

      • Hello

        I litter pick a one kilometre lane to where I live on edge of town. I started today but never finished due to the sheer volume of litter. I estimated that 60% of the discarded litter was plastic bottles, drink cans and glass wine bottles, the remainder was cigarette boxes, MacDonald’s drink and cardboard containers and a few plastic carriers but these were in the minority. Litter picked about half the length and collected six large sacks and I reckon the weight of each sack was 15kg. Highways England always measures its’ success of litter picking on the number of sacks collected but we could all do that if we leave litter uncollected for six months and do one mass clean up. Highways England doesn’t recognise frequency of litter picking because in their eyes it is too expensive. Instead, they grade each motorway and A road and wait until it deteriorates. Problem is, if they set a road standard at Grade B, they wait until it reaches Grade D- them reactively litter pick to Grade B. Very inefficient and allows litter to blow under roadside hedgerows during the long periods where no litter picking is done. Morale of the tale Highways England. Set the grading standard and litter pick to that frequency and not gauge success on the number of black sacks collected. We can all do this!


    Lets wait and see whether the Scottish government ignores the behaviour of Coca Cola and introduce the deposit system on plastic containers and cans. They have tried every trick in the book in every country where one was introduced. The UK is a massive profit making machine for Coca Cola and they want to retain the status quo. The deposit system is about increasing bottle recycling and littering away from the kerbside collections. Coca Cola are making a massive play about kerbside recycling improvements whilst ignoring the litter problem of their plastic bottles and tins; some 16 million per day dumped into the environment in the UK per day and many of them ending up on all of our A roads and motorways.

    The ministers at DEFRA were keen on a deposit system because of the success of the plastic carrier bag levy. One week they were keen, the next it appears they are running scared and siding with Coca Cola. So in reality, our government is ignoring the will of the electorate again and allowing the private commercial interests of a giant US corporate to dictate environmental policy. If we don’t get a deposit system then I want to know what alternative mechanism does this government have to stop the ever rising amount of plastic bottles and cans being dumped into our environment.

    Read it and please add your comments.

  217. Joe says:

    Our roads are a national disgrace. I travel and I have not seen anything like it ANYWHERE else. Up to 1/3 of drivers admit to throwing rubbish out of their cars. We have a real problem.

  218. Just found this deposit system petition on the Marine Conservation Society website. It’s good because the signed petition goes directly to your MP with a standard letter. I have persuaded 15 friends to sign and send so far.


  219. Timothy James Cullum says:

    Hi Peter, I’m so glad to see someone is trying to do something about this. The responsible agencies need to be held to account and I wish you every success in trying to achieve this. I had wondered if it was just a local problem but I can see now that unfortunately it is national.

    With plastic bag taxes and improvements to recycling schemes we might have had good reason to hope that the situation would improve but, if anything, I believe it is worse than I’ve ever seen it. My commute takes me along the A27 and M27 from Chichester to Fareham every morning and the state of the roadsides just makes me so sad. Along busy trunk roads like this I suppose a certain amount of debris is innevitable and sometimes unavoidbable but current levels are sickening. Also, on a recent drive along the A29 from Slindon to Bury, in the heart of the Sussex Downs, a National Park no less, (our green and pleasant land!) the laybys were just crammed with litter. It was the realisation that nowhere seems safe that has driven me to try to do something about it and consequently led me to your website.

    I would also like to offer my support in any way I can. I will certainly be spreading the word and making as much noise about this as I can but how else would you advise individuals can get involved? Can you recommend any groups or communities in the Chichester/Portsmouth area?

    Thanks again for the work you are doing. All the best.

  220. Dave Lister says:

    Just returned from a driving trip to the Nantes area of France, and barely saw a single piece of roadside rubbish the whole time we were there – this applied to Autoroutes, main roads and country lanes. Contractors in France are obliged to include rubbish clearance when tendering for grass and verge cutting – how hard would that be to introduce in the UK? Rubbish is always more apparent a) in winter when vegetation is more sparse and b) after grass cutting/ shrub clearance, so why not introduce this system here. Also, I have started to notice brave individuals out on the sides of main roads and lanes obviously freelancing. In these cash – strapped times would it not be possible to harness people power, with councils providing tools and safety?

  221. Robin Shaw says:

    Sunday, 19 February 2017

    Omg southbound M40 all the way from junction with M42 to Oxford, Junction 9 – litter al the way. We’ve never seen it s bad in years of use. it is such a pleasant motorway normally

  222. Glyn Thomas says:

    Yesterday we drove from Bridgnorth to Norwich on the M54,M6,A14,A11 there was litter virtually all along the way.The longest stretch of litter free was approximately 300yards near Brampton on the A14. We lived in Naples Italy for 2years and that was a fly tippers and litter bugs heaven ,however, now I think Great Britain surpasses that. It is truly embarrassing to see is all.

    • Glyn

      I agree about your comment on Naples. We had two holidays in Naples and the litter and rubbish on the streets and motorways was off the wall. Britain as the fifth richest economy, a northern European country with a monarch is now a shameful embarrassment and we have Highways England, a Government who have the powers to rectify the litter by collecting it to start with then their needs to be a national anti-litter campaign led by the Government and changes in legislation to force change such as the deposit system on drink containers, a green levy on coffee cups and fast food containers and the money used to provide more clean ups. Government won’t. They have already rejected, once again a plastic and can deposit system citing all the rubbish being lobbied to them by Coca Cola yet this system has worked for years in Europe, Scandinavia, the US and Australia. Not sure who is the worst? The litterer or Highways England and the Government for years of denial and neglect about solving the litter problem?

  223. geoff lngram says:

    what on earth is going on, no actually in Britain .The litter and filth we seem as a collective society to put up with is unbelievable.
    We that is the population and the government should all hold our heads in shame, lam certainly ashamed of this so called first world society that we live it’s a tip!

  224. Elna Strydom says:

    I drove along the M40 from Maidenhead to Loughborough yesterday.
    The littering has made my journey very unpleasant, as far as the eye could see there were plastic bags hanging from branches and discarded empty food packaging strewn all along the side of the road.
    I have just returned from a visit to a third world country, South Africa where I have not seen a single piece of litter anywhere! I am shocked to think this is a first world country where people are living in their own filth!
    Recently we have had young relative visiting from America. When we asked her, very proudly, what her first thoughts of the country were she announced that it was a very dirty country. At first we were a bit annoyed but then we started looking around and realised just how bad the littering was!

    I don’t think any cleaning was undertaken for a very long time along the M40.
    As I was driving, other drivers used their open windows like dustbins! If only I had a dashboard camera to film the culprits, but then again, would there be any action taken against them?

    The citizens of this country just don’t seem to care!

  225. Fred harris says:

    The A509 from Kettering to Wellingborough has appalling litter , I don’t think it has ever been clean, trying to get hold of the right authority is like trying to heard smoke!

  226. B Firmin says:

    A127 Southend Arterial Road which runs between Southend and Romford.

    This road badly needs cleaning up. It is an absolutely disgusting site on both sides of the road, and also in the middle section which divides this major road. It is totally unacceptable that during the majority of travelling on this section of the road today, that there was hardly a metre of clean area to be seen without some sort of piece(s) of litter and/or dumped material to be seen. This is a problem not only at floor level but at eye level and higher where it has been blown into trees. It would appear that some of this area has had tree and bush cutting, but wouldn’t it have been the sensible thing to do to follow this up with clearing the huge amount of litter which is now very apparent, some of which would have been hidden previously. It is an absolute embarrassment and certainly does not give this part of Essex a good name.

    I appreciate that a lot of the roadside littering is caused by individuals throwing it out of car windows which is disgusting in itself. Take rubbish home to dispose, it’s not rocket science nor a difficult task to do. It’s just plain laziness which unfortunately is a sign of the times in this country.

  227. Diane Clarke says:

    The M42 and slipways around Tamworth junction have been ankle deep in litter for almost 12 months now. Like all of you commenting I am very distressed by the state of our roadsides. I work as a tourist guide across the UK and can honestly say that I am ashamed to bring my guests along these roads. What can we do to bring this problem to the forefront…I know that there are many and to some, more pressing issues but surely it is our fundamental right as tax paying citizens that we should expect our environment to be cleaned up.
    In August 2016 I drive the West coast Highway in California and not one piece of litter did I see….perhaps it had something good to do with the signs stating $1000 dollar fines for littering?
    I would be very happy to join some kind of protest march if anyone else is willing.

    • Diane

      One good thing this government to implement is the deposit system on plastic bottles and cans. Two weeks ago Angela Leadensom, Minister of Environment stated she was keen and interested in the system. This week, this government has turned around and said it will not be implemented but they are looking at other ways of increasing recycling. Once again, this government is trying to stall the litter solving debate and deflect it back to household recycling. The litter on the roads is on the whole plastic bottles, tins, coffee cups and fast food containers. The deposit system would remove all bottle litter from our streets and motorways but this government has been nobbled by the likes of Coca Cola and are frightened to even think about it. Funny how deposits work excellently in Germany, Scandinavia, Australia and the US but for some reason the drinks industry state they would not be used here. How insulting to the UK populus to think we are too thick and lazy to embrace the deposit system. Finally, Coca Cola as as part of its’ business plan ‘Fight Back’ which is an internal campaign to block any deposit system introduced by countries. What that says is ‘we manufacturer the drinks, you drink, we profit and Coca Cola doesn’t care about the damage to the damage of a plastic bottle and tin can’.

  228. Linda Averill says:

    We drove from Kidderminster to Bournemouth this week. I have a brickbat and a bouquet following this journey. The A350 West Cepen Way between Lacock and the Chequers roundabout (Wiltshire) is a disgrace. As it is generally around Chippenham. I thought better of Wiltshire. My bouquet goes to four gentleman seen picking litter along an 8 mile stretch of the A449 between Hartlebury and Claines Island, Worcester last Monday morning February 13th. There was nothing on the high viz jackets they were wearing or on the bags they were filling and leaving for obvious later collection but they did a great job

  229. This may interest the readers of this site regarding the frustration for not introducing a deposit return system on bottles and can. It strikes me the major blockage to solving the litter crisis is our spineless government who seem to listen to Coca Cola and ignore the successful deposit systems that have been working around the world for years. My question to Coca Cola would be ‘if you don’t want to act ethically and support a deposit system then give us £1 billion per year to clean our motorways’

    Have a look at the CPRE link.


  230. John says:

    Our country, is fast becoming the an eye sore of Europe. I have never seen so much litter along our network of roads. A roads, B roads and motorways are all the same. Its sad that people think its ok to empty their cars of litter rather than take it home and dispose of it correctly but that the society we live in. However I strongly believe that the worse a place looks the less caring people become. If we stand any chance of getting on top of this, we need to collect on a more regular basis. On many roads I have been passing the same rubbish for last month and haven’t witnessed and any road side clearing throughout this winter. When are we going to tighten the laws and put some pride back into this country.

  231. Please see the link regarding this government signalling they are not in favour of a deposit system on plastic bottles and cans. The same old excuses and now citing that they were not impressed with the Scotland pilot system. The biggest ‘pilot’ schemes are the ones in use in Scandinavia, Germany, Australia and the US! Actually working! The government has no concern about litter and the so called future strategy will not address the 16 million plastic bottles and cans dumped in the environment per day. This is a case of, in my opinion, of the drink industry nobbling the government for vested interests. Are we now in the realms of having a corrupt government?


  232. Sharon Webb says:

    The A14 lay-bys between the new A14/M1 junction and the turn off to Market Harborough are a disgrace. There are plastic wheelie bins overflowing with rubbish. These are like this all the time. Plastic wheelie bins are no good in windy weather and fill up too quickly. Lengths of plastic flapping in trees and bushes is also another eyesore. Our countryside is a disgrace in particular near busy roads. As someone else commented dropping litter should become anti social behaviour like smoking etc.

    • Linda Averill says:

      I complained about the state of the A14 and its lay-bys about a year ago Sharon so it obviously has not improved any!

      • It will never improve or be clean until the responsibility falls into Highways England or much better still a new national cleaning department is set up that purely deals with litter and rubbish removal from the motorway and A road network on a weekly basis. This is not a ‘aspiration or flight of fantasy’ idea but one that any civilised country would operate. It costs money and effort from government and that is where the blockage. This idea does not solve litter but it is where we should be now collecting litter. It is just here in the UK the government and HE have never valued the environment and simply tamper around the edges with litter. The government just dumps all responsibility back onto individuals and local councils , job do. Come to Kent ‘The Dustbin of England’ and look at the view foreign visitors receive all the way from Dover to London via the M20, M26, M2 and A2.

  233. This YouTube clip from an HGV lorry driver sums up the litter crisis on the UK motorway network. I think it was the M1 and taken last year but funny enough it is still the same!

    • Correction. The YouTube film is of the A14 but nevertheless, still a wonderful linear dustbin.

    • Andrew says:

      I totally agree with what you say in your video,I recently was driving along the A12 in Essex..Miles and miles of litter on the side of road,I’ve also seen same recently in Sussex along A27 as well as many other roads I don’t think I’ve ever seen it look so disgusting as nowadays..What the hell is going on?

  234. Brian Fowle says:

    The exit slip road from the M25 anti clockwise at junction 29 is a disgrace as was the roundabout as well, I have never seen so many cans, bottles carrier bags and takeaway rubbish thrown onto a verge in my life, and then the A127 from there to Basildon also a disgrace, what is happening to this green and pleasant land?.
    Keep up the excellent work Peter.

    • Karen Bell says:

      Bottom line Brian is, the majority of people don’t care, the government has not interest and Highways England has the same attitude. Litter could be minimised and eradicated if government took the lead and implemented a national education programme, introduced a deposit return system on plastic bottles and cans similar to Scandinavian, Germany, the USA and Australia to name a few (please sign the government petition the link is further down in the thread). The fast food industry is subjected to a voluntary code of litter conduct and has not worked for years. This now needs turning into legislation and the EPA 1990 needs revising to modern day conditions so Highways England cannot avoid its’ legal cleansing responsibilities throughout England. There are lots of ideas coming from the public but government is still in denial and taking the ostrich approach to litter. The more the public uses websites like this and support Peter Silverman, the quicker ministers will sit up and listen. UK litter is now an international embarassment and I’m sure foreign tourists leave with a really bad impression of how we live.

    • Derek Gilman says:

      Recently travelled this section along M25, exiting at jn 29. The northbound exit (Romford/Southend A127) was appalling. The traffic lights area before joining the A127 eastbound was also bad – including a damaged ‘end of motorway’ sign from the M25 south slip road which had been replaced – but the old damaged sign had been just left there! Travelling east along the A127 and exiting at the A128 for Brentwood was even worse (both carriageways and central reservation). I thought the roads in Kent were bad – but this takes some beating. Nomination for the worst littered A road in the south east?? Have reported to Basildon Council via ‘Fix my Street’ but not hopeful of any action – complaining seems to get us nowhere.

  235. Anne Jolley says:

    Our “green and pleasant land” appears to me to be drowning in roadside litter. Driving through our once-lovely countryside has become a totally depressing experience due to the sheer quantity of roadside rubbish. I cannot imagine what visitors to this country must think of our failure to clean up the roads. I personally do what I can to keep the worst parts of our village clean……it is usually only 24-48 hours before the next plastic bottle, cup or can appears.
    I fail to understand why the authorities have allowed this litter problem to become so severe. The excuses given regarding costs, health and safety etc, are just pathetic. My greatest hope is that our roads are routinely and regularly cleaned up soon, heavy fines are implemented for dropping litter, and that the population as a whole becomes more responsible. Sadly, I am not optimistic…….

    • Anne

      Any council that states money is an issue for not collecting litter is acting illegally. The Environment Protection Act 1990 does not have any exemptions related to litter collection and money. If the litter is bad and remains regularly uncollected in your area I would suggest issuing the council with a litter abatement notice. An email to the council stating that this is a litter abatement notice and describe the littered area and they have 7 days to rectify the situation. They cannot write back to you with excuses for not clearing the litter. I issued two last week and the litter was cleared within three days.

      • James Vincent Miller says:

        Dear Brian,

        Whilst I agree with your sentiment in general, the reality is that local authorities often cannot afford to clean trunk roads at adequately regular intervals due to the cost of traffic management and the sheer volume of litter that is dropped. Litter clearance has to be balanced with other spending priorities. Whilst I appreciate that this is far from ideal it is the reality of the situation.

        More regular litter clearance of trunk roads will not be economically viable until the function is centralised and huge economies of scale realised. Naturally this needs to be complemented by more robust enforcement.

        I am acutely aware that some local authorities simply don’t take their responsibilities seriously and I believe that the use of Abatement Orders is definitely appropriate in such cases, but in some cases its a question of money rather than will.


        • I agree with a central approach and I’d go further and suggest splitting litter picking and road cleaning from Highways England who have never been efficient or interested in the problem. Since I became involved with litter in 2004, the then Highways Agency stated then they don’t see litter picking as part of their core activities, hence why no dedicated litter picking teams exist with HE. They use the Incident Support staff to adhoc litter pick as part of their other duties. I suspect local authorities have given up litter picking but regardless of balancing funds, they are required by law to remove litter and need to be reminded of this using litter abatement notices. At the moment, it is the only tool the public has to get a road cleared.

      • Anne Jolley says:

        Thank you Brian, I appreciate your advice.

  236. barbara cuttell says:

    I travel from warwick to kettering weekly. The A46 around Coventry is grim,lots of plastic on verges & draped on hedges. The A14 is dreadful – laybys are disgusting with waste piled high.so depressing! A horrible journey. What is wrong with people who dump contents of their vehicles on roadside for all to enjoy!

  237. roma katten says:

    Hi, I too am fed up with the litter in our country as others have said no problems across Europe – I travel the M25 and A1, terrible, a chair has been on the central reservation of the A1 for months, with all the other litter. M6 litter on both sides and central reservation. The amount of litter is beyond believe everywhere. Whilst collection is a problem, why are there no longer government adverts in the media telling people not to litter to be proud of the country – there used to be – why do we have such disgusting people who think it is ok to throw litter out of their cars instead of taking it home. Cameras especially on exit roads on motorways with actual prosecutions would help. I would suggest we should push to have the highways agency collecting rubbish on motorways and main roads outside of towns and villages, not local authorities. I also believe there should be an extra 20p on all takeway coffees, cans, bottles, and food which should be given to a central authority to deal with litter. Frankly I am disgusted that I live amongst people who care so little as to spoil the country they live in.

  238. Karen Bell says:

    A2 – Gravesend Tollgate Junction

    Could somebody from Highways England explain to me why everyday on my way to work I get to the Tollgate roundabout coming from Gravesend and I am faced with a large embankment shrewn with what looks like years of litter? Why plant trees to make the motorway look attractive when somebody can be bothered to clear up the litter. Leave it long enough and the summer growth will hide it again! I can honestly say that I have never seen any regular litter picking on the A2 but I’m sure the disingenuous at HE will not agree. If so, I say why is they always so much litter present everyday, every week, every month?

  239. Dee says:

    I travel most weeks from Waterlooville, down the M27/A31to Ringwood and some times onto Bournemouth. and the same rubbish is on the side of the road, in trees, shredded tyres, road sign frames, police incident type, dead animals, in other words, like a roadside rubbish tip. We have road cones, just left on the side of the road, which cost money to buy, even saw Red tinsel in a tree this time, will keep a watch but I could lay a bet it is still there is week, The New Forset is a lovely place but the main route down from London is a eye sore, You see Highway maintance people driving around in flashly trucks, so why is monie not being spent on keeping our roads, clean and also keep the folige clear of road signs so they can be seen, and also give them a good clean so headlights etc, pick up the sign in the dark,

  240. Cherry Mills says:

    The A3 in Surrey leading from Milford to the M25 is a disgrace. There isn’t a clear stretch of 2 meters without a piece of litter on it. I thought this must be unusual till I went on the M23 and some A roads to Brighton yesterday and found they are just as bad.

    We went to California in July and found the roads were spotless. Guess what? There are signs everywhere warning of a $1000 fine for litter dropping. Why can’t this kind of strong penalty be introduced here?

    • Brenda Shore says:

      Yes this may get boring but I have just returned from Switzerland and could count the bits of litter I saw on just two hands. Motorways largely spotless. The A38 near me in Derbyshire is the responsibility of so many local authorities for a start and their main focus is trying to keep the city centre’s clean. I have spoken to Amber Valley Borough who have responsibility for a good stretch of A38. They apply a year in advance to contractor of Highways England to get road closed overnight over 4 nights and usually get near 300 bags of litter. But this doesn’t by any means deal with it and it won’t get picked again for a whole year apart from lay bys which are done when they can after all else is done. The irony is there are lay-bys on this road full of litter in the middle of which sits rusty signs stating £100 fine for littering!
      This piece meal approach is totally ineffective.

      There are areas on roadsides now which I believe will never get picked and are totally inaccessible that local authority staff don’t attempt to reach those areas and it is impossible for any one who is so insensed and wants to do something themselves.Behaviour change is required for sure but in the mean time a huge campaign is needed, joining forces with all interested groups, celebrities and Government sure need to lead on this. Sadly we are not winning this war at the moment for sure!

      • Brenda

        Yes all northern European motorways are generally litter free because they have a brilliant sense of national pride and governments and highways departments that remove any litter quickly. I cannot believe the state of the German Autobahn, litter free and the verges groomed so litter collection (if any) is easy to achieve. Here, the verges and roundabouts are unkempt, damaged road signs and hidden litter everywhere. The pleasure in the summer months is watching a Highways England contractor chop their way through litter shrewn verges to expose and leave tonnes of cut debris behind. Where my friend lives in Kent, The Garden of England (that’s a joke), the A2, M2, M20 and M26 are choked with litter. Leeds Castle junction is heavily littered, the route for tourists to visit the ‘loveliest castle in the world’ so the hype states. Here in Newark, Nottinghamshire, the A1 is cleaned by the local authorities throughout the route but none is done due to cash. The large central reservations resemble a landfill site and the verges have tonnes of litter blown underneath the roadside shrubs. A new organisation needs implementing nationally purely to litter pick all major motorways and A roads without any split responsibility. This is an urgent requirement to get the litter under control. At the same time, government needs to start showing national leadership and implement an education programme and public awareness and not dump it on charities and local authorities who are not there to do this as their core business. A deposit system must be introduced on plastic bottle and cans to stop the littering of spent drink containers. I saw no bottle litter in Germany and Denmark when I visited, two countries that have had this sensible system for years. At the moment, the government is still not interested in litter and see it as a minor issue in comparison to their burning baby called Brexit. And we want to be self governing post-Brexit. We can’t even get litter under control and introduce sensible environmental policies that are tried and tested in many other continents.

  241. Having wrote to Highways England in Birmingham stating ‘could you advise me who I need to send a series of litter abatement notices to for the Kent motorway network. The name and address for the litter abatement notice is required for the magistrates court’

    Reply in summary, and this is a major twist in the tale of why the A2, M2, M20 and M26 in the Dustbin of England are filthy; Highways England Birmingham HQ stated that litter collection is the responsibility of the local authorities and any litter abatement should be sent to them. Says it all! A massive centrally funded government agency completely deflecting the responsibility of poor litter collection on the Kent motorway network onto the local authorities because I have stated they I wish to issue a litter abatement notice. How low can you get Highways England? The fact is, litter collection is solely the responsibility of the Area 4 private contractor and also has been. But looking at the state of the motorway network in Kent and throughout the country I hazard a guess this is the message Highways England HQ are putting out to all complainants regarding litter. What a low public body Highways England is.

  242. John Hope says:

    The Chief Executive of Highways England is Jim O’Sullivan . His email address is
    Jim.OSullivan@highways.gsi.gov.uk . Everyone writing on this site should send their complaints directly to him until he is seen to be taking action . Bombard him !

    Keep up the good work Pete!

    • John, lets hangfire on this for the time being. I am already condensing and sending all relevant comments to Jim O’Sullivan, and everyone I can think of in a relevant position of authority. Please see Roadside Litter Complaints.

      I will be going through everyone’s comments with the Environment Correspondent of a national newspaper on Wednesday.

      If we were to target anyone with e-mails it might make more sense to send them to the Secretary of State for Transport ,Chris Grayling.

  243. You may wish to sign this petition calling on the government to stop procrastinating over introducing a deposit system on bottles and drink cans. 16 million are dumped in the environment in the UK per day and do not get recycled. Countries where a deposit system exists have recycle rates of about 98% and virtually no plastic bottle and tin litter. The fear of government is coming from the likes of Coca Cola and others with a drinks industry interest. The industry has no defence and yet their reasons for not introducing one is being listened to by government over the massive damage to the environment. Coca Cola made £2.5 billion from the UK market and want more without responsibility. It’s about time government acted in the interest of the British people and the environment. After all, this is the government that wants plastic recycling to increase to 80-90%. It won’t happen without a nudge. Sign and pass the petition on to as many people as possible.

  244. Nigel says:

    I’m staggered and depressed by the amount of verge side debris, your site shows this is common all over the UK. Roadside litter is a disgrace; it puts us to shame against so many other countries.
    I appreciate this campaign is focused on the accountability of local authorities, HE etc., but I’m interested to know if its aligned with perhaps complementary objectives of other organisations (e.g. English Tourist Board, Tidy Britain, National Trust, CPRE). I see CPRE is particularly vocal active on the idea of a deposit return system, and it’s surely part of the solution? It’s now even being promoted by Jeremy Paxman in The Mail:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-4210234/JEREMY-PAXMAN-wants-end-blight-plastic-bottles.html (….not that I’m a Mail reader myself…)
    The Government must get to grips with a DRS, and its unpopularity with the drinks industry. Surely Brexit provides an opportunity / catalyst? I’m sure you’re doing all you can to raise this with sympathetic MPs. Perhaps the objective should be to secure a Parliamentary debate (I think 100,000 signatures is the threshold?). A big ask, but we may have more chance if we are aligned with these other groups.
    I also think we should be asking for a completely new approach to litter collection and cleansing for both Motorways and Truck Roads. Maybe a new body (‘Clean England’?) organised regionally, and partially funded by the drinks industry, fast food companies, etc.?

    • A regional approach to cleaning no residential main roads makes good sense. A regional organisation could employ full time cleaning crews with mobile blocking vehicles for protection. There would be huge economies of scale compared to the current ad hoc approach

    • Brian Reynolds says:

      The person in the media that gets environmental issues highlighted is Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall. I remember him saying that he wants a DRS introduced. I think a duo of Jeremey Paxman and him on the BBC would massively embarrass the UK government into action. With regards to the UK not having a flavour for a DRS utter rubbish (excuse the pun). Most people would be content with it and adapt to using it. The blockage is a scare government vs an agressive drinks industry that has no care for the environment, only profit. I met Samantha Harding from the CPRE about 10 years ago and I do know she is still battling with the DRS introduction and still meeting resistance. The CPRE even commissioned a detailed independent report that gave all the pros and cons of the DRS. More pros than cons but at the time it was kicked into the long grass by government. Germany was threaened with legal action from Coca Cola when they introduced a DRS but the German government basically told them to ‘bring it on’ . No action was taken and Coca Cola still exists with massive profits! The UK is weak and feeble and our government is weak. A DRS will be introduced but it is when? Probably at the point where the UK is so extremely littered with the profits of the drinks industry.

  245. Geoff Sargeant says:

    Just returned from a few days holiday in Northern France again – what a contrast …. it is amazing to see how our country used to look ! – very little litter on any roads , even in the bigger towns / cities … all verges & ditches well maintained & roads without potholes … if the French can do it , why cant we ? I was so depressed ( again) on the drive home to Derbyshire looking at the appalling state of the UK’s roads .Its the same everywhere from the south coast northwards.
    On a positive note , I have read today in the Daily Mail , a full page article by Jeremy Paxman advocating the banning of plastic bottles , and I understand the Daily Mail may be launching a campaign along these lines , similar to the banish the plastic bags they had a few years ago . This is what we need .. national awareness to this massive problem & a government that takes notice . What about us collectively making the Daily Mail aware of this site & maybe getting their help with publicity etc ?

    • Yes and Germany and the Netherlands the same. The grass verges in Germany are cut similar to a public garden – amazing! Here Highways England deliberately grow verges high to hide the litter. Shameful. The deposit system on cans and bottles has been kicked around for 10 years and has been refuted by government. It works! It works around northern Europe, the US and Australia and it increases recoiling and massively reduces littering. The Scottish government is still debating whether to introduce a deposit system but are fearful of the drink industry who lobby using absolute rubbish reasons such as ‘the UK has a well developed sophisticated kerbside cycling system so a deposit system would not work’. Our recycling system is poor and even so does not address the tins and bottles littered in the UK everyday. The deposit system would change behaviour and has the carrier bag levy and aid a massive reduction in street litter. Parliament and ministers refuse to accept such a system because they fear the likes of Coca Cola. This company tries it on in every country that introduced the system in the past but other countries have told them this is what is going to happen. Ironically, Coca Cola manufacture reverse tin and bottle vending machines for the US market where they are used extensively in many States. Once again, it is corporates seeing the UK as a cash cow and introducing a deposit system would hurt their profits. It doesn’t! Introduce the system now and stop procrastinating.

  246. James Vincent Miller says:

    i am sick and tired of this drivel:

    In response, a spokesman for Highways England said: ” Litter is not just only unsightly, it can also be an environmental hazard – blocking drains and harming wildlife.

    “Our advice to drivers is clear: keep bag in your vehicle for litter and keep it with you until it can be safely and responsibly disposed of.

    “We work hard to clear litter on our network – both on motorways, where we clear it ourselves, and on most A roads, in partnership with local authorities.

    “We always target known litter hotspots but it would be great if these hotspots remained free of litter in the weeks and months ahead.”

    • Standard corporate reply I’m afraid. The Highways Agency and now Highways England have used the same response for 12 years! Dumb really. Annoying thing is, they don’t even remove the tonnes of road grit and weeds from the edges of the kerbs and concrete central reservations, this causes eventual damage to the road surface and blocks drains. HE and their private contractors are dishonest and lack any integrity in my opinion but they are still taxpayer funded!

  247. Kev Dee says:

    Is there any reason why criminals can’t be assigned to pick up litter as part of their community service? What better way to repay a debt to society than to clean up the environment?

    The same applies to the many convicted defendants who escape justice with a so-called “suspended sentence”. Let them atone for their crimes with a litter picker.

    Similarly, prisoners who are ready for release should earn their parole by cleaning the filthy highway verges blighting our once green and pleasant land.

    • Brenda Shore says:

      Recently spoke to a manager for community payback which is now privatised in my area. They are required to find regular work for community sentences that lead to accreditation if possible and work with groups on projects. So he was not keen to get involved in litter picking!! Sad but true.

  248. Jonathan Hatto says:

    Hi Peter,

    Great site full of useful info. Well done to you to making a stand.

    Many of the comments I read on the plague of littering are aimed at treating the symptoms without looking at the underlying cause.

    Getting local authorities or highways to keep roads clear seems like a hiding to nothing. Yes, they should be cleaning the roads periodically, but, to what ends? A roundabout just off the M6, junction 20, is cleaned about 4 times a year. It stays clean for maybe 2 days before it’s being littered again.
    It’s upsetting to drive along many of the roads I use every day. I just can’t understand what compels someone to throw items out of a car window. Having read all kinds of research on the stereotypical litterer, it’s also easy to start looking at young men who smoke and drive sporty hatchbacks as criminals when I’m sure they aren’t all guilty.

    One of the hardest things to change is human behaviour. We could use a stick approach, actively prosecuting litterers into altering their habits. This will quickly alienate members of the population, who are, at this stage, following their ‘instincts’ to open the window and throw out a cigarette bud, bottle, can, bag….

    Or, we could look at making sure the behaviours don’t stick in the first place. Key to doing this, I think, is at school level. Getting the educational system onboard with teaching people that it isn’t okay to litter, that there are serious impacts on our country by littering. This is slightly ‘paying it forward’, maybe a slow burn result some 10 years down the line, but it is doing something meaningful to stop the slide in the wrong direction.

    What do we do in the meantime? Well, we can’t help with motorways much (too many fast moving cars), but we can all help with the litter on our streets, by our homes. If every able homeowner cleans, say, 20 metres around their house once per week, then the country starts to look a whole lot better. Pride is restored, and, quite selfishly, I get to drive to work with a smile rather than a frown.


    • Jon

      I do agree with the majority of your comments regarding education. But the responsibility for behaviour change really sits with parents and then reinforced by schools. National government has a major role to play in this as well, called leadership but we live in an age whereby the Westminster Elite do not want any responsibility and cite dumping all social issues onto local authorities, individuals who cannot effect change on their own. The issue I take with the crisis of litter in the UK is that Highways England employs very expensive private maintenance contractors such as Amey. These private contractors are given the delegated powers of Highways England to act as the ‘cleaning authority’ cited in the Environment Protection Act 1990. They are funded throughout the UK by the taxpayer yet do the bare minimum of litter picking. There are no dedicated litter picking teams in the UK this part of their service to the taxpayer is treated with contempt. Yes, litter is picked and then returns but there is no excuse for the piles of uncollected litter that is prevalent on the majority of the network. It is my opinion that to get the litter crisis under control in the UK requires short to medium action from Highways England in terms of setting up regional independent litter picking teams, at the same time central government initiates a national anti-litter campaign to begin the process of highlighting the damage litter causes, the cost to the taxpayer and above all, the anti-social aspect. Other areas where changing behaviour will occur is through the introduction of a drink deposit system or reverse vending of drink containers. The Daily Mail brigade spent years stating the 5p levy on plastic carrier bags would never work. How they have been proven wrong. It has been a massive success and I can say that I very rarely see plastic carrier bags on motorways or locally. The deposit system on drink containers works well in other European countries and having used the German system, it is brilliant and gives incentive to return plastic bottles and cans at supermarkets or anywhere with a reverse vending machine. Coca Cola and the drinks industry hate it but the irony with Coca Cola is the fact it manufactures reverse vending machines for the US market! The deposit system, or the fact that the government is not to introduce it, highlights just how little they want to solve the litter problem and encourage change. The standard reply for government is generally ‘litter can only be solved by individuals’. I think it is a case that the government is caving in to the threats from the drink industry who have reacted in this manner in every country that has implemented a drink deposit system successfully. Soon as it is implemented, they go away. In summary, litter needs government, parents, individuals, initiatives such as a deposit system and Highways England and Network Rail to be accountable to clear litter and rubbish from their land on a regular basis (weeks and not years).

      • James Vincent Miller says:

        Somewhat surprising that the Daily Mail actually seem to be promoting a bottle deposit scheme! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4141928/Bring-deposits-plastic-bottles-cut-litter.html

        As per this article in the Independent the government is supposedly reconsidering it:

        Although we all know that soft drinks manufacturers will be lobbying hard against such a move.

        • Coca Cola and Co have tried it on in every country that has introduced a deposit system and that things such as ‘plastic bottles are only a small fraction of litter’ or ‘it punishes the consumer who will not return the bottle or can’ or ‘the UK is different from Scandinavia and Germany’ or ‘a deposit system will affect kerbside recycling’ or ‘it will be expensive to implement and operate’. All these excuses (not reasons) are the ones that government have hidden behind since 2008 when a deposit system was muted then by different anti-litter groups and concerned environment groups and still ministers are struggling to introduce what is a sensible recycling and anti-littering initiative. Coca Cola and Co keep stating they want the status quo of funding anti-littering education but this is simply a smoke screen. Yes, I’m sure they fund something, somewhere but it will never address their lack of environmental concerns about producing products that are consumed and dumped in the millions each day in the UK. I’m not a defeatist but the introduction of the deposit system is a no brainer for sensible intelligent people but for ministers it’s really challenging. Every sensible anti-littering initiative is met with a major debate that really has no debate. Yet another plastic carrier saga of ‘it will never work’ or ‘I think we need to be careful not to upset the supermarkets and public’. What has happened? Behavioural change whereby the vast majority swapped their plastic carrier bags or lifelong bags resulting in billions of plastic bags leaving the east stream in one year. If you look, you will not see that many plastic carrier bags on motorways now! Politicians need to stop thinking of the UK population as dumb and start serving them and the environment and put their money where their mouth is. The drinks industry will survive and people will still guzzle litres of Coca Cola.

      • Jonathan Hatto says:

        All good points Brian. I fully support the drink can & bottle levy – all good things we can do to chip away at the problem. The point about making parents responsible for educating their children raises the question on how we change the behaviour of the parents. I feel this is needs to be led by educating the parents of tomorrow in their formative years on environmental awareness. Something that clearly isn’t being done today. Representatives from Police, fire, internet safety and numerous others go into schools once per year – why shouldn’t there be representatives from the Environmental Agency or local authorities going into schools also. Maybe they already are, just not to the schools in my area.

        Break the cycle of learned behaviour, and we (slowly) start to reap rewards. Maybe I’m just naive in thinking this is our best chance of reversing the tide.

        Clearly we can’t leave it all to ‘Big Brother’ to clean up after individuals. That said, government and local authorities could clearly do more to help with the cleanup. Obviously, if there’s government level misappropriation of funds for litter cleaning then this clearly needs revealing and addressing.

        National pride is very much lacking on the issue of litter. Compounded by the ‘it’s someone else’s problem, we pay our taxes’ mentality. How about a specific council tax increase just to deal with litter collection? May focus the minds to the direct cost of littering. TV ad’s I assume can help although is there any evidence to support this?


  249. Litter is everywhere. It can be readily found without trying very hard. So why do people feel there is a need to litter? Why, with just a smidgin of thought, could that litter not be taken home? Yes there is a great deal of takeaway food related and coffee related litter out there but it is not the direct fault of the businesses selling such items. It is the fault of the individual who drops, illegally disposes, lazily throws, stuffs it into a hedge, drops into a river or throws it into the sea. aka Individual responsibility. The sooner, we, as a society, ensure that littering becomes as unacceptable as drink driving, smoking in a place of work, not wearing a seat belt, or spitting in public the better.
    By the way, the A470 from Gabalfa interchange to the Cardiff boundary is appalling.

  250. Mark Godfrey says:

    I am so shocked by traveling on the A13 just passed the wennington turn off along a small stretch about 50 meters long , bushes , grass verge and trees covered in litter , also from the Basildon turn off towards southend / canvey island which is full of Litter / Rubbish for miles .
    A family member visited recently from Australia and could not believe the state of our A roads and Motorways he was so shocked how deteriorated our country has become since her last visit 7 years ago .
    I have tried to complain to our MP and even written to parliament and no.10 downing street but everyone just passes the buck to each council , Havering , Thurrock and Barking / Dagenham . But not one will help or do anything ? But blame on funding and the government .
    Our once green and pleasant land is fast becoming a rubbish tip and needs more cameras or policing to fine the culprits perpetrating throwing litter and rubbish on our A roads and Motorways etc.
    And our government could do their part in showing people on TV , newspapers with adverts the litter , Rubbish etc. On roads and Motorways and telling the public they face hefty fines if caught littering or throwing rubbish .
    I felt so ashamed driving down to southend with my Australian cousins , they were so shocked & disgusted because they had just driven through spain and France which they told me was so clean and virtually litter free but to be honest I feel that 70% of the litter & Rubbish problems are the people who live here and car drivers and mostly the LORRY drivers fault for dropping and throwing their litter out instead of taking it home and just throwing it their bins etc. So simple and a big solution to our very big problems facing our country .

  251. Derek Gilman says:

    I quote from a reply received from a complaint to HE about some of the litter ‘grotspots’ in Kent. It mirrors other replies I have received from various contractors in the area over the last couple of years. I am coming to the conclusion that emailing these bodies is ineffective, as their workforces (a couple of workers with litter pickers) and funding are severely restricted. There must surely be more effective ways of ‘hoovering’ up the vast amounts of litter which is now accumulating to the point where, ultimately, it will be impossible to remove?? The new ‘Litter Strategy’ is yet another load of waffle, which dismisses hefty deposits on plastic bottles and cans as unworkable (although other EU countries seem to cope with them?) I really do despair – but take comfort from the fact that I am not alone. I think that a massive programme of ‘education’ is required, from schools to hard hitting media adverts and motorway/A road reminders along the lines of “Don’t be a tosser – take it home with you!” slogans. But let’s not give up hope and keep chipping away, inspired by Peter’s persistent dedication to the cause. Anyway, this is the reply I received – it will be interesting to see what the’ Kent Resource Partnership come up with. (By the way, what exactly is an “Asset Support Contractor”?):

    “Thank you for emailing the Highways England Customer Contact Centre on 29 January about subject litter on the M2 junction 5 and on the A2 towards Dover.

    A-one+ is the Asset Support Contractor working on behalf of Highways England in Area 4, which consists of Motorways and trunk roads in Kent, Sussex and a small part of Surrey.

    As part of our role as Asset Support Contractor, we are responsible for the collection of litter on the M20, the M2 and the A2 between the M2 and the M25. Please note that litter collection on the A2 from Brenley Corner to Dover is the responsibility of the various local authorities that the road goes through.

    I’m sorry to hear of the condition of the exit slip off the M2 at junction 5. We’re very aware that there is a real problem with litter on our network, and we have a dedicated crew working daily on identifying problem litter areas, and collecting litter from the network. I’ve flagged the area around the Stockbury interchange up to our local depot and asked them to take the necessary action to return this to an acceptable state.

    Going forwards A-one+ and Highways England are working with the Kent Resource Partnership looking at ways to work together to tackle litter as it is an ongoing issue in Kent.

    One of the things that we have found is litter is a cultural problem and needs addressing at the source, as you have suggested, this may be done by raising the issue of litter via the media or through education of the impact of litter in society today, this may be something that is discussed in the future with the Kent Resource Partnership to see how it can be tackled together. ”

    Don’t hold your breath!

    • I agree with your whole message. In 2004 I wrote to Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart who was the then leader of Kent County Council. He was a real support of anti-littering and wanted something done because he was embarrassed living in the Garden of England in 2004 that had the appearance of a dustbin. His comparison was made of his holidays in France where no or only some litter was present on the motorways. At the time I was invited but the newly formed Clean Kent Campaign as the annoyed resident to confront the Highways Agency over why they are unable to keep the network litter free. In 2004, they were making the excuses of ‘need cultural change’ ‘funding requirements’ ‘expensive to clean the central reservations’ ‘health and safety’. I continued to meet with the Clean Kent Campaign who were in effect Kent County Council trying to engage with the Highways Agency to get them to do their job. Even they said they have their own agenda and act in an unaccountable manner. From the Clean Kent Campaign it was agreed that the Kent Forum would be set up that included all local councils in Kent and the Highways Agency and the aim was to coordinate who is responsible for what and when and such things like coordinating litter picking before verge grass cutting was one of the aims and shared good practice. In my opinion, it was a talking shop to deflect the real issues, that of physically removing litter which other northern European countries seem to do very successfully. In summary, what I am saying here is that my efforts have not moved on in terms of breaking into the Highways England denial thinking. They are an organisation not fit for purpose, they are closed to public consultation and ideas on litter and refuse to change. They do not recognise the Environment Protection Act 1990 and constantly ever to the guidance on litter picking standards which is irrelevant to cleaning and is used simply as a tool for their private contractors to cut costs and not litter pick. Ultimately, the law is the law and the guidance is that, guidance and has no legal standing. Overall, Kent County Council, in my opinion, has given up with Highways England and so we are no further forward in Kent since 2004. I have stated to Highways England that litter picking should be split from the incumbent maintenance contractor and given its own status but this is met with the normal reinforcement concrete wall!

  252. Brian Fowle says:

    I Drove the A13 from Sadlers Farm to the M25 junction last Sunday this must be one of the filthiest stretches of the A13 why does it never seem to get cleaned, dont they care about it any more? On a more positive note on the same trip I saw two gangs of litter pickers on seperate sections of the M25 in Kent, and on a Sunday as well, well done, Come on Essex get your act sorted out.

  253. On Jan 8th 2017 I emailed Highways England to complain about the state of litter on a mile long section of the A405 between the M1 and M25 and the relevant slip roads at Junction 6 of the M1 and 21a of the M25. They passed this to their contractors who manage this part of the road network, Connect Plus, who on the 12th referred me to their Code of Practice document and said they had planned road closures in the next two weeks to clear the litter at the A405/M25 and M1 so things looked positive.

    I am part of a local action group who organise regular community litter picks and have been tackling litter since 2008 and was responding in turn to a complaint from a concerned local resident. 

    However, a month on if any clean-up has been carried out I’d be surprised! Now the area seems worse than when I made my original complaint and while I’m no expert I’d say that there is good reason to grade some of this as D or in the words of the Code of Practice “Heavily affected by litter and/or refuse with significant accumulations”

    I had asked for the contractor’s own regular survey data for this part of the network but this request appears to have been ignored so I don’t know how bad they believe this is. Nor do I know whether they are simply clearing litter from the road surface rather than the adjacent verges where much of the unsightly mess is gathered.

    I’ve tried to chase up a response today copying in the MP for St Albans, Anne Main, in the process.

  254. Karen Bell says:

    Just had the most vile car journey for many years! Travelled from the Tollgate in Gravesend along the A2 and then the M2 to Maidstone in Kent. The litter shrewn on the embankment areas at the Tollgate between the trees is disgusting and the slip road unkempt and horribly littered. The A2 today was shrewn with litter along the A2 to Cobham and the central reservations untouched for at least six months. Why the hell?

    The Chatham/Maidstone/Blue Bell Hill junction on the M2 is littered to oblivion. I have never seen so much litter dumped the whole length of each side of the slip road and the top area has more tins and bottles showing than grass. Why?

    On the M2 just before the Chatham junction there is a large hardstanding. The litter accumulated there has been there for one year. It has built up and up and no attempt has been made to remove it. It makes me wonder what the Highways England private contractor is employed for. The fact that tonnes of road debris remains and the abundance of large weeds and wild bushes exists simply demonstrates that not even general maintenance is carried out. Glad the Chief Executive of Highways England is happy to be paid by the taxpayer and still allow all Areas of his domain to be operated without any accountability and service to the taxpayer. Highways England is a national disgrace and letting the environment and Great Britain down. Thanks.

  255. Ian Dare says:

    The M42 between junction 10 and 11 – especially the northbound side – is a scene of complete squalor, like something we’d expect from the third world. Whoever is responsible for letting it get to this state should hang their head in shame ! Is there no-one with a shred of professional pride at Highways England ? I can’t think of many public bodies who would be content with this state of affairs. If you want to see really clean motorways and trunk roads – largely litter-free and with properly maintained vegetation – then drive along the A1-M1 link in Yorkshire or the A50 in Derbyshire, both operated and maintained by a private concern Connect Roads; the A417 in Gloucestershire is similar. If they can do it, why not the HA ?

  256. Sally says:

    Good to see so many others do care and want something done although I think the difficulty is who to write to.

    As I understand councils have a statutory obligation under the environmental protection act 1990 section 89 (1) to keep roads litter free and the Secretary of State is responsible for Highways.

    If these people are not fulfilling their statutory obligations what redress can I have against them ? I am sure if I do not adhere to statutory obligations I will be fined or get points on my liscence.

    I would appreciate any advice regarding my questions

    • Sally

      Just issued two on Friday. Simple process by email stating that you are issuing a litter abatement notice under the Act then state the road littered and state that the authority has 7 days to respond.

      As I said, I issued two, one to Dartford Borough Council in Kent and the other to Gravesham Borough Council in Kent. Both responded immediately and the litter has been removed. Not what I would call councils acting properly because they should be cleaning main roads as a matter of course but as this is the only action they understand because one council of highways authority likes adverse publicity, then I would suggest you issue one forthwith.

      Good luck.

  257. C. Gormly says:

    I want a national anti-litter campaign.
    I want positive action. I want education in schools. I want people to pick up litter. I want businesses to clear up litter from their own surroundings.
    I want people to love and respect our country.
    Litter is hazardous to people and to wildlife as well as ugly and distressing to see if you care about our country and our countryside as I do.
    My mother broke her hip and wrist at age 83 from slipping on a drinks can someone had thrown in the gutter. This event made her unable to live independently again, and I am sure also shortened her life. The person who threw away that can will never know the pain and heartbreak that action caused.
    I bought some litter pickers and I frequently pick up litter in my village – not as part of any ‘event’ but as part of everyday life.
    I just can’t believe how much litter there is.
    The day before yesterday I drove along the M25 (not too bad for litter), and up the M11 to Cambridge and came off at Junction 14. Almost the whole M11 has an enormous amount of litter and you can see what a huge task it is to clear it up. But the slip road at Junction 14 is full of an enormous quantity of litter. And in fact the route I took there to the Holiday In Express at Coldhams Park was full of litter – this in a hugely respected university town and tourist attraction!
    Coming back yesterday I was encouraged to see 3 men from the highways clearing litter on a small section of the M11. As I came south round the M25 where it merges with another motorway from Kent there was very slow moving traffic on the connecting slip road and it was full of litter. People obviously throw things out of their cars when the traffic is slow.
    I just cannot understand why people don’t take their litter home or throw it in a bin.
    What is the point of writing my thoughts on this website though?
    Who reads it and how can it possibly affect anything?
    Last year I drove to Canvey Island from the M25. The route there in Essex was the worst for litter I have ever seen.
    People say – ‘no-one cares these days’ – well that is a defeatist attitude.
    I care, and so do many other people.

    • Larry leighl says:

      absolutely agree the highways agency are a complete waste of time,fob off merchants as are t f l and all the councils,they are just pass the buck merchants

    • Mary Stubbs says:

      I share your pain on litter. I have written on this site before about problems with litter in my area (north of Southampton) alongside main roads but also rural roads. I clear litter regularly along the rural road where I live and am constantly amazed how much there is – mainly drinks cans, bottles, sandwich or sweet wrappers, fast food wrappers, cigarette butts etc also stuff that falls off lorries or vans. I asked the council to clear a stretch near me recently and they did! but within days the rubbish is back.

    • Robert says:

      Well said. I often comment on this site – Peter is our saviour! I honestly do not understand what is going on in this country – the litter problem is the worst, probably, in the world. What an utter disgrace – yet the people who govern us do not seem to care. I think we will need to bring in some sort of identity tag on all packaging so that it can be traced. This would make litterbugs think twice as well as providing a traceable source for prosecution.

    • Your comments will eventually cause change but unfortunately this is the UK and for notice to be taken by our ‘turn a blind eye’ government this needs to be become a national crisis and a national complaint leading to the problem becoming a political agenda issue. Central government thinks it is hard to solve but it isn’t. Highways England should be forced to adhere to the Environment Protection Act 1990 and has independent monitoring standards as a Key Performance Indicator. Dot matrix systems used to sent out anti-litter messages similar to the use of mobile phone usage. A national anti-litter campaign led by central Government and not dumped on hard pressed local councils. Legislation forcing all fast food outlets to show anti-littering slogans. Deposit system introduced on all plastic bottles and cans to encourage the return of containers for a deposit (works in Germany, Scandinavian, USA and Australia) and the populus want it now not some procrastinated delayed action. A national policy that changes behaviour that sends out a clear message that dropping litter is anti-social. In the near future, strip Highways England of all litter and rubbish collection and set up a national network of litter collection throughout the UK that constantly removes litter. This last suggestion, I hear the cries of ‘do you know how much this will cost and it’s not feasible’. My response is, Great Britain is the fifth richest economy in the world with one of the worst litter crisis ever in modern times. Do we carry on in denial or spent money to address the problem in the short to medium term? The reason why Highways England and central government has an ostrich approach to the problem is because they don’t what to waste money on the environment and it is somebody else’s problem not a national government problem, hence why after ten years of campaigning I have hit a brick wall.

      Finally, we all need to support Peter in his mammoth task and sent his website link to everybody on Facebook. This is the only way to make the issue go national and encourage people to send in their observations.

  258. Georgina Smith says:

    Please report to Highways England the following roads which are in desperate need of attention.
    A2 Dartford Heath roundabout and approaching slip roads, eastbound to the M25 junction.
    A289 from M2 to Chatham in both directions.
    In fact most of the A & M roads in Kent, but cleaning the above up would be nice start.
    Also, suggestion, why don’t HE introduce littercams on slip roads and issue fines for littering, just like speedcameras?

    • Georgina

      I live in North Kent and have been asking the Highways Agency and now Highways England to clear and maintain the A2, M2, M20 and M26 to Grade B standard; virtually free of litter. They allow all the network to sink to Grade C and D and in some locations Grade D- and only react with a complaint is sent to them. The Area 4 private contractor based at Kings Hill, West Malling do not respond to the public complaints so in the future I will be seeking litter abatements against Area 4 for not keeping the verges, slip roads and central reservations free of litter. If they cut the verges and central reservations similar to Germany and Austria then litter picking would be easier but they are not interested. Sad that the Chief Executive at Highways England has lost control of his private contractors throughout the UK and they are still allowed to self monitor their own work, hence why the whole motorway and A road network is choked with litter and rubbish. Guess what? if the HE private contractors had key performance indicators for collecting X amount of litter per week and received an incentive payment what a clean network we would have.

  259. D Hutchinson says:

    I recently relocated from Darwen Lancs to Worcester. Moving to a country location I assumed that the highways would have less litter. Quite the contrary the litter in and around Worcester and Upton upon Severn is disgraceful. Tha A38 from Tewskesbury to Worcester is full of litter . All the slip roads at the junction of the M5 and M50 are covered in rubbish. While the local councils seem to do a good job in the towns they seem to totally neglect the country roads and motorway junctions
    Surely periodic clearance of litter in our countryside is not too much to ask of our county councils

  260. Celia Derbyshire says:

    On Sunday January 29th I returned from a fortnight in North America and as usual was saddened and shocked by the litter on the verges and central reservations for mile after mile along the length of the A1. This is a common reaction when we return home but of course is particularly bad at this time of year because there is little vegetation growth to cover up the problem. We travelled from the M25 to the Newark turn-off and the litter was evident for the entire length of our journey – and presumably had we continued north, so would the litter!
    If Highways England has a statutory duty to keep litter on main roads under control, I can only say that in my experience of the A1, they are simply not doing so. I hate to think what visitors to our country must think – wherever we go outside the UK, the contrast between other countries and the litter-ridden UK is always grimly embarrassing when we return. Public education, and fines for litter-dropping, are obviously necessary, but neither will be very effective all the time that people perceive that they are surrounded by refuse. Please keep our country cleaner!

  261. Tim Odell says:

    Hello – the A20 between Folkestone and Dover is like driving through a tip. Really disgusting. The M20 between Folkestone and Ashford, esp around J. 11 is pretty grimy as well.

  262. Issued two litter abatement notices today, one to Gravesham Borough Council, the other to Dartford Borough Council. Dartford has responded within hours and agreed to remove all the litter identified in the notice by Monday 6 February 2016. Gravesham Borough Council is still to respond. Unfortunately, the litter clearance is carried out by Amey who are employed by Dartford Borough Council. I have questioned the waste manager as to why he is unable to monitor the private contractor employed to remove litter from main roads within the borough. In my opinion, private contractors and the weak contacts their are employed under, is a major reason why our roads and motorways remain heavily littered. Private contractors work to a contract, to profit margins and as the bottom of this list is quality of service and delivery. In my opinion, they are leaving the public sector local authorities exposed to legal action but with regards to Highways England and their private contractors, both are acting illegally by ignoring the Environment Protection Act 1990.

  263. Dave Lister says:

    All main roads in this area (Wiltshire/ Somerset border) are choked with garbage, in particular the A36 Warminster by pass and the A361 Frome by pass.

  264. It is astonishing to me that people made such a campaign about leaving the EU so me could be so called ‘self governing’ which is a myth because we are already, yet the control and collection of litter in the UK already comes under the control of the UK government including the need to legislate further to toughen up litter laws. The whole litter message is a mess because central government does not see it as a problem and simply devolves (I call it hand washing) the crisis onto local councils who are here to serve local services not going out onto highways litter picking. How can a country sit back and watch the environment degrade year on year and no think major action needs to be taken for a central government? One of the greatest complaints MP’s receive throughout the UK is the problem of motorway litter yet that’s where it ends. My MP Adam Holloway, Gravesham is great at writing to Highways England for me to receive the same ‘we collect 150,000 blacks sacks of rubbish per annum’ but that’s where it ends.

    Simple positive steps this government could and should implemented.

    National anti-social campaign towards not littering;
    Anti-litter signage in all fast food outlets by law;
    Deposit system on all drink tins and bottles which is successful around the world;
    A separate litter collection agency which is independently monitored by whoever;
    Better enforceable laws for network railway to keep all their land and tracks clean regularly not adhoc.

    I could go on!

    Can you see this happening in the UK? Nope.

    • Tim Odell says:

      Dear Brian – these are great ideas which work very effectively in other countries. Why is UK willing to put up with the current situation?

      • Government denial and lack of any interest in litter because in their eyes litter has no economic return and above all, money and proper resources and organisation at Highways England.

        Highways England simple do not care because they are a very arrogant public body and non accountable to the taxpayer

  265. Brian Aitchison says:

    For Peter –

    Your hard work is very much appreciated. Please continue to keep the pressure on!


    Brian A

  266. Steve Dennard says:

    If the franchise owners / owners of our Motorway services were advised that they are responsible for the litter in these areas – not just on their forecourts – a lot of litter wouldn’t blow its way up the carriageways.

    These businesses could sponsor the litter collection – signs advising such – this promting their businesses and actually doing some good for the surrounding environment. As it stands their food and drink gets bought and then the packaging gets discarded 5 minutes later on the highway.

  267. Steve Dennard says:

    On the M42 yesterday and watched a pick up truck reg. VE55 MVX dump a large cardboard box of rubbish on the hard shoulder and then drive off. Incredible!

  268. Steve Dennard says:

    Travelled from Dudley to Stansted airport this week. Shocking litter at the junction onto the M5, – the W. Midlands roads are the worst in Britain – up the M5, along the M6, then the A14. The A14 manages to have lay-bys with overflowing bins of rubbish as well as rubbish all along the carriageway. Same depressing story along the M11: Red Bull cans, Costa coffee cups, McDonalds waste, plastic sheeting from HGVs.

  269. Chris Ashby says:

    The A162 from the Ferrybridge Services roundabout to Fairburn roundabout is litter strewn all along the verges and along embankments. It makes me feel sick every time I drive passed it. Contacted local council who stated it was not their responsibility.

  270. Graham Waddington QPM says:

    I have to say that by and large this country is filthy and having worked in Norway where litter is just not seen I cannot even begin to understand the mentality of those who eject items of rubbish from their cars, the situation is untenable and for most law abiding and morally sound UK residents, the affect is akin to depression.
    This week I travelled from my home in North Oxfordshire to Newark and by journeys end was in a state of shock, the entire length of verges along my route were covered in discarded detritus, food wrappers, drink cans etc.
    The RAB at Crick junction of the M1 was perhaps the most affected by litter…why, oh why the Local Authority cannot link road cleansing to planning application conditions for the thousands of HGVs and logistics companies that operate from this area is beyond me.
    The worse thing is that I regularly with fellow residents pick litter up around the village environs where I live, but picking such litter from major trunk roads is like attempting suicide…we are all at the mercy of those who should be cleaning up but appear to have either lost the desire or will to serve (paying) residents.

  271. David Allard says:

    I drove to Bristol from Swindon yesterday along the M4 and was appalled by the amount of litter on the motorway especially around J15 (East Swindon). In the past I have filled large bags with litter from the roadside but on the motorways this is forbidden and at busy junctions like J15 it is dangerous. Of course, uncaring drivers cause the mess – but we all have to live with it. It’s a national disgrace.

    Who is responsible for keeping our roads clean?

  272. Catherine B says:

    My miserable commute each day…..M25, off at the Junction with A41 (litter at the lights) then litter along the whole of the dual carriageway on A41 as far as A414 to Hemel Hempstead (and probably beyond). I have on several occasions brought this to the attention of the local council (Dacorum Borough Council) and always receive a telephone response (I asked for a written response) stating they can only afford to clear up the litter twice a year. Added to the problem is that the grass is cut by another authority (Highways if I remember rightly). They cut the grass before the litter is picked, so it’s just chopped up and strewn all along the carriageway on both sides. I hate my job enough without having this every morning! Roll on retirement! (I would attach photos but it’s too dangerous to park and get out of the car to take pics – will do it one early morning when there’s no traffic about – you wont believe the carnage)

    • Catherine

      The very nature, and I am surprised, that a council has actually admitted funds only allow litter picking twice a year. This very statement is illegal and contrary to the Act of Parliament, Environment Protection Act 1990. Nowhere within the legislation does it state ‘roads are kept litter free only when funds are available’. If you have this information still, I would issue the council with a litter abatement notice. Write to the council initially stating they are acting illegally and contrary to the Act of Parliament and the litter must be removed. If they do not respond by removing the litter then issue the litter abatement notice. Councils and Highways England attempt to deflect the litter and lack of cleaning by stating the guidance of the COPLR (Code of Practice for Litter Removal). This guidance is that, guidance and has no legal standing. The law that needs to be met is that of the Environment Protection Act 1990. Every trick in the book is being used by councils and HE to avoid their legal obligation to ‘keep the highways free of litter’.

    • Steve Dennard says:

      Hi Catherine, part of my work schedule dictates that I have the same miserable journey as you with the same miserable views and thoughts that you do. As an alternative I sometimes go round to the M1, then off at HH Junction, past the Welcome to Dacorum sign then through the litter strewn industrial estate although 2 weeks ago 3 people were clearing it up. The A41 is shocking though, particularly the pull in areas – that have bins – and I think that the Services and McDonalds along that road also play their part. The roundabout back down onto the M25 is also often appalling. I have written to the Council but no response as yet.

  273. Nigel Hawkey says:

    The M40 is currently in an appalling state from Junction 16 down to Junction 12, and has been for many weeks….

  274. carole thin says:

    I drove south on the A34 from Oxford, disgusting litter on both sides, I’m going to hound the County council about it. I’ll also email the Oxford Times newspaper, they got up a petition a year or so ago and got a result.
    Also the A27 driving east towards Chichester, disgusting litter.
    What are the laws regarding citizens clearing litter on roads, it’s bound to be illegal!

  275. Mervyn Kettle says:

    The following is a copy of a letter I sent to the Leader of Devon County Council on the 2nd January – I am still waiting on a response!


    I previously wrote to you back in February 2016 regarding my concerns over the the general state of Devon’s roads in relation to litter and as a concerned Devon resident unfortunately feel it necessary to repeat that exercise. However, in doing so, it must be noted that I really do appreciate the financial implication in keeping our Devon countryside ‘green and pleasant’, so perhaps a more proactive rather than reactive approach is required in the future?

    Many of our roads, in particular the busier A30 and A38 are an absolutely disgusting eyesore due to continual depositing of litter along their verges and within lay-by’s.
    I would like to draw your attention to the following specific examples which sadly is only the tip of the Devon litter iceberg:
    Both carriageways of the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth (again)
    A38 Buckfast junctions – disgusting (again)
    A361 between Tiverton and the M5
I have on several occasions brought to the attention of ‘our’ District Councils areas of their responsibility that have required attention with regard litter removal, and I am pleased to report that some of these have been actioned in the past.

    I am constantly seeing highway verges that have been strimmed/cut back where previously discarded litter has been left behind. Surely this is an ideal opportunity to address some of the litter problems by having these areas cleared of rubbish whilst they are undertaking the aforementioned work thereby giving safer accessibility to the cleaning teams at the same time.
    As there are temporary safety bollards in place at the time, this would be an ideal opportunity to clear litter! This too applies to the uncollected temporary roadside furniture! So many wasted opportunities!!

    Perhaps the sight of local residents out clearing the litter on the A38 and A30, putting themselves at risk ..
    A Notice under Section 91 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 being served by members of the public on DCC may galvanise a more suitable response from the Council(s)?

    I hope that more effort in dealing with the litter issue in our county can be achieved so the above does not become reality!

    Roadside furniture/signs:
    A similar concern on keeping Devon tidy is the deteriorating state of much of our roadside furniture. In particular, many road directional signs are not maintained and have become green and grimy with age. Much of this ‘dirt’ can easily be removed, I know because my wife and I have actually cleaned several local signs and restored them to a more acceptable state.

    If the County has introduced signs then they must have a cost implication and be installed (a) for a reason (b) fit for purpose and (c) maintained for the purpose that they were originally designated.

    These poorly maintained signs gives the County a ‘shabby’ look and are a potential hazard as they may no longer be ‘fit for purpose’ and therefore actually become a perilous distraction to drivers.

    It appears that due to changes in the economic climate, many more people are visiting the southwest of England for their holidays. It has also been stated that an increase in filming is taking place here due to the amazing countryside and coastline; this in turn will bring international visitors in their droves to admire the actual location site.
    Areas such as Dartmoor where ‘War Horse’ was filmed and ‘The Coroner’ filmed here in the South Hams are just two examples of ‘crowd pullers’ let alone slightly further afield in Dorset where Bollywood fame has hit Lulworth & Durdle Door!
    With the above in mind, how disgusted will these travellers be when they encounter the unsightliness of uncollected litter?

    A more proactive approach.
    For a few suggestions from myself as a concerned resident – please see the enclosure.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence. It is hoped that you will share its contents with District Council leaders and I look forward to receiving a response to this letter in due course. I also wait with baited breath for a marked improvement in Devon County – or is that just wishful thinking on my part – yet again?

    Yours sincerely

  276. Iain Dreger says:

    I’ve recently driven along the most litter-strewn roadside I’ve seen. M4 Eastbound Junction 10 slip-road to A329 (M) heading west. A complete rubbish tip. Royal Berkshire!

  277. Steve Ashby says:

    I hope all readers have signed the 38degree petition on introducing a 10 pence deposit on plastic bottles. This would surely help limit this aspect of roadside litter

  278. Continuous Uncollected Litter from the A282 Dartford tunnel approach to Nottinghamshire

    I live in the East Midlands and use the M25/M11/A14 and A1 to get home.

    The A282 is overgrown and hidden litter prevalent. The overgrown nature of the verges is deliberate to hide the litter;

    The M25 on the Essex side is just one length of rubbish. The verges have months of uncollected litter and I have never seen the verges litter free meaning that litter picking is undertaken adhoc;

    M11 from the M25 slip through to the A14 one long dustbin. What is the problem with litter picking the verges from the M25 to Harlow? Always heavily littered? Stansted junction, the litter under the flyover and slips is one big embarrassment! The rest of the M11 to the A14 is disgusting. Even seen discarded builder’s buckets and rubbish on the hard shoulder. Looks great!

    A14 three words – Filthy and forgotten!

    A1(M) hit and miss with scattering of litter letting the motorway down

    A1 from Peterborough to Newark – all the verges are choked with uncollected litter and rubbish and large central reservations appear to be a secondary municipal dump for all to use. Realise some of this route is the responsibility of the local authorities but this policy does not work and it is obvious nobody wants to take responsibility. This is a good example for the HE to take ownership of ALL trunk roads where litter is concerned.

    How have we got to this level of fifth in this country with nobody in power wanting to take the intelligent approach and deal with the problem?

  279. John says:

    I follow you site and admire your dedication. Thanks for trying to address this issue at a higher level. Litter I’ve decided is a mindset. You either see it and care (and go mad!) or you don’t see it so it’s not a problem. When I started to notice litter it was like a light going on. The question is how do you make people care? Or how do you educate people to care?

    Several years ago I started picking up litter in the Lake District as I was sick of walking past it. I pick it up most days now and can easily fill a bag. It’s become an obsession. The Lake District by the rest of the countries standards isn’t awful for litter on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper you will find it. There’s an awful trend to hide litter in the landscape here. The worst is detritus hidden in walls and trees I find. I now keep several areas spot less and also hassle my local council on a regular basis. They do manage to clean the highways here sometimes. It lifts my heart when I see a team of people cleaning the verges!!

    Final thought. The M6 toll road seems pretty clean compared to most. It’s like driving in another country. Perhaps more roads should be toll roads with dedicated teams cleaning and repairing them.

    Keep up the splendid work I salute you all.


  280. John Lindsay says:

    I would like to copy and paste my message from 11 January since no action has been taken and in fact the situation has become far worse, now with road drains becoming clogged with litter and debris. Here goes my message again with a couple of updates :-
    “In Buckinghamshire both A355 approaches to the intersection with J2 M40 are litter strewn. The litter can be seen for 2 miles on either side of the A355 where it crosses over the M40. It has been at least 6-8 months since any litter and/or debris collection was attempted. This is an offensive eye sore and a disgrace. Responsible authority is South Bucks District Council. Most of the litter is fast food wrappers and containers and an alarming amount of beer cans which shows that alcoholic drinking is also occurring more than we possibly realise ? If litter is to be of any purpose maybe the latter is quite useful ? ;). The Beaconsfield Services should be partly accountable for this mess and health hazard. Dont the service stations have a duty of care within a 100 meter radius from its perimeter ? The main culprit however is the ignoramus littering motorist. Unfortunately if the litter is not collected on a regular basis the consequence is that irresponsible motorists are much less likely to refrain from throwing out even more litter. Litter breeds more litter. The latter is not a good enough excuse, more like a UK wide and national public disgrace, on the one hand the motorist is responsible, on the other hand the local council has a legal obligation to clear the roadsides of litter. What is happening to our beautiful country ??

    • I agree. About 10 years ago it was the motorways that were littered generally but now the litter disease is along every rural road throughout the UK. It’s the most isolated places that seem to have marginally escaped this disease. I don’t care what evidence is produced; the massive litter problem is due to fast food, food on the go and the massive drinks industry campaign over the years whereby nobody can go anywhere without having a plastic bottle welded to their hand. It’s simple to solve. The government news to get a grip and implement a high profile anti-littering campaign; they need to introduce a drink deposit system or reverse vending on all drink containers whereby a deposit is added and refunded when the container is recycled into a machine; Scandinavia, Germany, Australia and of all places, part of the US have reverse vending and the litter has reduced greatly. The UK government keeps kicking the deposit system in the long grass because of the threats from Coca Cola and the drinks industry but the irony of Coca Cola is it produces reverse vending machines for the US market! It is a case of the UK government and Coca Cola and Co acting in a protectionist manner for profit and not for the environment.

      Highways England should divorce itself (although I think this has already happened) from litter removal and a dedicated national littering pick organisation set up to remove all litter from all motorways and A roads on a weekly basis or if required, more frequently in hotspots. This strategy is the only way forward for the EPA 1990 to be met.

      Underpinning these two strategies, the government and local authorities need to continue a high profile public campaign to make littering anti-social and change peoples behaviour and attitudes. Even some of my closest friends who do not litter, do not see the high levels of uncollected litter along the network. It’s only when I point it all out they see it. In contrast, my German friend visited and asked me why we have so much rubbish and litter in our streets and roads? Says it all!

  281. Tony says:

    A bit of good news to reward Peter’s hard work.
    Brighton and Hove Council have finally started work on clearing litter off the A27.

    • Well done! It’s the threat of the litter abatement that made local councils mad. I issued two before Christmas and the litter was removed the same day but the CEO and his waste manager were annoyed I issued it in the first instance. Tough really!

  282. Sally says:

    Why are we so good at writing letters e mails etc in this country and yet nothing gets done? What is the problem I am tired of hearing lack of money a few less enquiries which reach no conclusions and cost millions would go a long way in clearing up litter. Being asked to identify a particular area of litter as far as I can see when I drive it is every motorway and road that I drive along. It is so bad it actually makes me feel ill. PLEASE get something done stop the talking lets have some action NOW

    • Sally I really sympathise with you. I have been campaigning for over a decade to get the government and authorities to address the litter crisis in this country. It has made me ill to the point where I am on antidepressants and avoid driving on British roads, only if it is essential. I am missing out on so much of the beauty of Britain but what is the point driving through choked motorways and A roads to get to the other end feeling stressed and depressed. I have all holidays outside of the UK now, namely Germany and Scandinavia but in doing so it simply reinforces just have filthy dirty the UK is when I return. I actually hate Highways England and the government for constantly lying and deflecting the scale of the problem. Where I live in the Garden of Kent, it is nothing more than a transit dustbin for vehicles going to and fro the continent.

  283. Question to Highways England Chief Executive

    Could you please tell me why you cannot set up a national dedicated body with their on litter picking teams with all the health and safety requirements to go out on a weekly basis on all routes and remove all litter. I just cannot understand why the HE is in such denial over what is a chronic embarrassment to this country. Even tourists are noticing the litter disease that has happened. To continue to think that somebody else will solve the problem is wrong. As a short to medium term solution at least, HE or another dedicated litter collection agency should carry out your legal obligations as defined by the EPA 1990. It is clear you cannot and will not give litter any real priority. I suspect this request will fall on deaf ears due to cost but at some point, something needs to change in this country. Central government will not help but you as Highways England could make the change and make the UK environment a great deal better again. Reasons for not considering this proposal would be beneficial please.

    • Brian, I totally agree every section should be cleaned weekly by mobile teams with blocking vehicles to protect the litter-pickers. They should be dedicated to this task and this task alone working their way up and down the network. I will forward your comment to HE’s CEO Jim O’Sullivan shortly

      • Thank you Peter for doing that and I will continue to support you and lobby as many officials as possible. Since the Tory cuts, I have seen a massive reduction in litter picking in Kent, the very county that set up the Clean Kent Campaign and holds monthly forums where all local councils and Highways England are suppose to share best practice, discuss ways to deal with litter on a practical basis and interface with each other on agreeing when certain sections of road are due for maintenance closure to allow local councils to schedule litter picking. The forum was set up in 2005 and in my opinion it is now defunct or if it does still exist, it appears to be a group that discuss but do nothing.

  284. What a delightful linear bin the A11 is in rural Essex and Suffolk

    From the time I left the heavily littered M11 and travelled the length of the A11 to Bury St Edmunds, I was numb at the non-existent litter picking along this entire road. The central reservations, especially where the woodland planting was, has years of uncollected blown litter and the ‘witches knickers’ (plastic carrier bags) were rotting on the hedgerows. The roundabouts along the route are used as discard points for food on the go from the petrol station and fast food. Such beauty.

    No excuses for the state, just lack of interest from the cleansing authorities, no proper regular resources and no pride from all concerned. Who worse? The litterers or the ones we trust to make our environment clean? I know who I’d choose on this occasion.

    Fifth richest economy with a monarchy and a complete UK motorway and main road network choked with litter.

    I thought I was driving through Suffolk until my friend explained to me it is Serbia!

  285. Mark Dickinson says:

    The litter at junction 26 of the M25 both entering and leaving motorway is appalling.
    It has been like that, building up to disgraceful levels, for months now.
    I drive for a living and the general amount of litter on the UK roads and slipways is a national disgrace.
    There is clearly there is a lack of effort to address this problem.
    If Nick Harris, as the Operations Director for Highways England, is not up to the job, then it is time get somebody is.
    I have contacted my local MP on this issue.
    Nick Harris – either fix it or step down.

  286. Linda Carver says:

    I travelled on the M4 today, and the litter around junction 11 was particularly disgusting and offensive, though it is bad on any motorway in the UK, I think.
    A couple of months ago there were a few large signs on this section of the M4 telling people not to drop litter and that they could be caught on camera and fined if they did. I was quite heartened to see these. Now they have disappeared, for what reason I do not know.
    Reading other people‘s comments about other motorways I agree that people visiting our country must get the impression we do not care about the environment, and that we are a disgusting lot of people in the UK. It doesn‘t do much for our tourist industry, does it?
    I feel pretty helpless and very angry that this litter persists on our roads, and don‘t know what to do about it.

    • James Vincent Miller says:

      Hi Linda, these signs were added as part of a trial by the contractor to assess whether they make any difference to rates of littering. I have been assured that if they are seen as successful (i.e. littering increases without them) they will be redeployed. Its the same for M3 and A34. I was also informed by the contractor that early analysis suggests they did make a significant difference. I would add though that as far as I aware the treat of cctv is just that, there is no actual enforcement taking place. James.

      • David Basson says:

        I think they made a difference on M27 and I hope HE bring them back. There is an argument that if they were left in place all the time, they would lose impact. Am quite sure no enforcement has occurred but would be good if HE were to tell us!

  287. Peter

    Do you ever receive any communication back from Nick Harris regarding the comments make on this website? I’m just interested because the Highways England policy seems to be ignore the public and their concerns. On the occasion I did meet some of the staff, they come across as arrogant and unaccountable and any comments you make, they suggest the public writes to the Department of Transport. In other words, don’t burden us with your trivia.

    • Nick Harris has gone quiet on me. This is disappointing particularly after the warm reception he gave me when we met in November. I have just sent an e-mail to his boss Jim O’Sullivan, HE’s CEO ,asking if there is any reason for this.

  288. The Darenth Interchange Between the M25-A228 Dartford Tunnel Approach-A2

    Having recently driven to this major junction nothing has changed for the years I have been complaining about the lack of no litter collections. The whole arterial roundabout and slips are heavily littered and the rubbish is strewn down the embankments like something out of Serbia. I can hear the cry of the Highways England spouting on about ‘busy road, unable to litter pick regularly, disruptive to the flow of traffic to close lanes, the health and safety gem that’s up their sleeve now’. The fact is, they do not clear any litter even when they have overnight possession of the junction. I will be interested to see if litter picking of the central reservations takes takes at various locations on the M20 when it is closed overnight for resurfacing. It won’t happen because the resurfacing team is one contract and general maintenance another. In any case, the HE does not litter pick ‘safe areas’ now and regularly throughout the motorway network on a weekly or monthly basis so no need for me to hold my breath on that one! I dread to think what state the motorways in North Kent and nationally will become in five years time. The crisis is here now and yet denial and not doing the proper thing at HE Executive level remains the major obstacle as is the denial of our so called enviro-friendly Tory government.

  289. David Basson says:

    I have been pressing a local council for several months to clear the roundabout over J9 of M27 at Park Gate, Hants – together with surrounding verges as they are a running sore for litter. It is the responsibility of Winchester City Council to clear litter as well as on the surrounding verges. I did achieve one clearance last year but its hard graft. They accept responsibility for it. Am getting narky with them now. I emailed a local Councillor, no reply. Arrogance rules. Anyone local feel like emailing the City Council – would be appreciated. Will report outcome!

    • James Vincent Miller says:

      Hi David, I live in the Winchester district and have been campaigning regarding litter here for several years. Last year I coordinated a petition and had an article in the Chronicle on the matter. The council has since set up two litter squads that are supposed to target litter hotpots such as this in addition to routine clearing conducted by the Landscape Group. I have some contacts at the council and would be happy to raise this specifically with them if you could share evidence and more details. Regards, James.

      • David Basson says:

        Thanks for your response James. I have no pics. My previous complaint led to a Council Officer visiting the site and being “shocked” by what she saw. The latest episode has not brought forth any reaction but I have sent a supplementary in to complain that nothing has been done. Ironically, I have recently been sent an email by WCC inviting me to be a party to a consultation on how they respond to a range of things (maybe you have too). It came as I responded with some vitriol to their lack of action. I would appreciate any prodding you can do.

  290. N. O'Mahony says:

    The verges of A14 between Bottisham turnoff and Milton turnoff heading westwards are full of litter and getting worse. I have never seen any cleanup activity going on in the four years I have been driving past.

  291. A14 between the M6 and Huntingdon

    Has the cleaning authority just given up on the A14? I have never seen so much litter and general dumped rubbish in my life. the state of this road is comparable to roads in Greece and Serbia. Have we really got to the point in the UK where nobody in power cares about the environment and litter. I do know, after years of lobbying, the Tory government has not interested and will never formulate a tough national anti-litter policy and be the leader of it. The annoying thing on the A14 are the regular signs the state ‘we are aware of the litter problem and collection is ongoing’. In other words, ‘don’t contact us because we will do some litter picking when we feel like it’. The signs are to protect the cleansing authorities from the threat of litter abatement notices but in reality the authorities are not doing any litter and rubbish removal otherwise the A14 would be FREE of litter and rubbish. I bet if the royal family planned to use this road it would be spotless as Kent was when the Tour de France went through the county many years ago. Contemptuous really!

  292. Appalling Amount of Litter on Kent’s Motorways and in particular the A2 and M2 in North Kent. Highways England are a national disgrace.

    Nothing changes after lobbying my MP for 12 years and likewise with Highways England. The litter on the A2 in North Kent is appalling from the London boundary right through to Brenchley Corner near Faversham. The central reservations are neglected and never litter picked and recently Highways England have had overnight possession to repair the motorways but still think that litter picking by law is not required. I can say without prejudice that every slip road, every verge is constantly littered and not litter picked regularly. The slip roads at Pepperhill near Gravesend are constantly heavily littered and Highways England know of this as well. It is shameful that Highways England do not even remove the years of road debris from the gutters, something that is their core maintenance business. Why is it Germany can keep their Autobahnen to a clean kept standard yet in so called ‘we want to self govern ourselves Britain’ when already tough litter laws treat our environment with contempt. What a country, what a government and what a local MP I have! Shameful!

    I look at the Autobanhen in Germany and see the pride where the verges are properly cut, the road gullies are free of road detritus and the slip roads and junctions groomed with pride. Coming back into Dover, litter on the A20, lay-bys stuffed with tonnes of rubbish, the M20 littered throughout to the point I left the M26 at Wrotham. You can see that litter in Kent is picked reactionary adhoc and not as a planned event.

    Isn’t it about time the CEO of Highways England agreed with the populus that things are not working, they do not have the resources and no proper plan to keep the road network FREE of litter nationally throughout the UK? Instead, we have an expensive public servant who appears to be treating the public with utter contempt.

  293. Paul Wood says:

    I regularly travel on the M62 between J21 and17, appalling litter all along the motorway, plastic sheeting hanging from trees. If other countries can keep their roads clean why can’t we? Do the people responsible think it’s acceptable? Are they not embarrassed by their neglect?I have complained to HE about the slip road and roundabout at J17 where cans and bottles are ankle deep. Some are rusting they have been there so long. Usual story, I got passed from contractor to contractor but nothing has changed. It’s so frustrating and rather depressing. I could make the same comments about the M60, M61, M65 and the M66.
    I also travel to the ‘tourist’ city of York. The A64 Tadcaster Road is a littered mess from the junction of the M1 to York itself. The lay-byes look like the local dump. All this for overseas tourist to appreciate as they approach York.

  294. Rob Madgwick says:

    Just driven home from the New Forest to Winchester using the M27, the M3 and the A34 and all of these major roads are absolutely riddled with litter. It is reminiscent of a scene from the ‘The Walking Dead’ or other dystopian future films. It has to be seen to be believed. I’ve contacted HE with the usual response of it will be looked at etc. Most of the litter is recyclable. Need to bring back the bottle deposit system urgently I think along with some public awareness. It’s so embarrassing. Can’t believe the UK is one of the richest countries in the world looking at the state of the roads. Very depressing for tourists and younger children who think this is the norm here.

  295. Clive G says:

    B1160 a beautiful stretch of forest near elveden strewn with litter. Almost expect to see litter in most urban areas nowadays but so sad when it’s in our rural places of beauty.

  296. Clive G says:

    Depressing watch from HE: https://youtu.be/W4j8B0r0hgQ

    Can you prosecute people dropping litter from camera footage? We need more deterrents!

    • Clive, Interesting video.

      The second part shows an accumulation of litter over a 7 week period. However at the beginning of the video the accumulation is much greater. So how long had it been left to accumulate?

      We are told that slip roads have to be closed before they can be litter picked but the video demonstrates that this is not the case. Why cannot that blocking vehicle be deployed once a week to protect a slowly advancing group of litter pickers without the need to use cones?

      HE could prosecute standard litter offences and also waste transporters who allow their loads to escape. They could also arrange to take on powers to issue on the spot fines – but adamantly refuse to acknowledge these facts

    • Andrew Swinney says:

      You can according to signs on the sliproad to Peterlee, County Durham off the A19.

  297. Ian Dare says:

    Just a report for Mr Harris: the M5 southbound between J6 and 11A is badly littered (and the verges are terribly overgrown); the M42 northbound between J10 and 11 is bad, but especially around J11 (as usual); M1 northbound 23A-24A also bad.

  298. Paul Hunt says:

    The A453 carriageway was named in honour of British service personnel killed in combat after being widened to a dual carriageway in 2014. Running from Nottingham into Leicestershire, the road is now called Remembrance Way.The road bears the same number as that of the total of British military losses in Afghanistan. The state of this stretch of road, from Clifton to J24A of the M1 is, as sadly are so many of our highways, badly littered and, as documented in the attached photographs, vandalised. The emergency telephone pictured has been inoperable for two months now. The state of this road clearly demonstrates what an insincere and shallow gesture naming the road was. I am writing to Councillor Richard Butler, cabinet member for sustainability at Rushcliffe Borough Council, who was quick to jump on the media bandwagon when the road was named, but who is obviously doing nothing to maintain this monument to fallen servicemen. I will also be asking Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP, who opened the road when he was Secretary of State for Transport for his thoughts on this matter

  299. Jane Goodger says:

    It’s heartening (though saddening too) to see that others are as frustrated as I am by the growing litter problem. I travel each week between Surrey and Lincolnshire and constantly complain to HE and local authorities at the state of the roads. They’re all as bad as each other but at least HE make a half hearted attempt at replying (albeit their contractors). Local authorities rarely reply unless you chase and chase. Like others I think it starts with education and constant reinforcement by signs and adverts. The Keep Britain Tidy slogan was on the tips of everyone’s tongues when I was a school but they seem totally ineffective now. An immediate solution might be to have larger bins in lay-bys and perhaps lobbying lorry companies who use them as overnight stops and toilets. It would be great to get a young TV personality to get behind the campaign and encourage youngsters that it’s socially unacceptable to drop litter.

  300. Brian Lambert says:

    I have just driven along the A31 from the western end of the M27 to Ringwood. This road crosses the New Forest, the margins and central reservation of this road are in a dreadful state in relation to rubbish discarded from vehicles.

  301. C Boreham says:

    The M20 from Maidstone to Folkestone and then the A20 on to Dover are covered in litter. The roundabouts over Junctions 10, 11 and 12 are particularly bad. It’s interesting to learn that it’s Highways England responsibility because they have a base at Junction 11 where the rubbish is piling up against their fences – clearly they treat their statutory responsibilities with contempt.

  302. JEANE DOY says:

    The A31 from Farnham to Guildford is a sad eyesore, as is the Southbound exit from the M & S services on the A3 (near the southbound turn-off for Wisley).

  303. James Wright says:

    I’ve always wondered why there are not bottle banks in the UK. In other places you never see cans or bottles strewn about as they have a value. Growing up in Canada they were a great source of pocket money for me.
    Surely it can’t be that hard to organise. If a politician just managed to achieve one thing in his/her career having these introduced to the UK would be a great achievement.

    ps, I drove along the a27 from Brighton to Portsmouth yesterday and the Brighton section was a depressingly filthy as ever but it was heartening to see cleaners out around Worthing and that stretch of the A27 looking wonderful. They should put big signs up beside the roads with the fines for littering as they do in Northern Italy.

    • Robert says:

      It was similar in Australia and NZ where they encourage recycling bottles and cans by paying the public for them. But also, people simply do not litter as they do in the uk. I love this country dearly but it is slowly being destroyed and those that govern us could not care less. Very depressing.

      • Germany just doesn’t tolerate litter. Germans will not tolerate anyone that drops or leave litter behind and will tell you. But they are far more respectful of their environment and so is their government. In the two weeks I stayed in Germany I never saw a plastic bottle or can anywhere in the environment. Over here, plastic bottles and cans are every metre or so. Even our National Parks are becoming dustbins. Shameful nation and shameful people.

        • Julia Morgan says:

          It’s a whole mentality isn’t it? The Germans also have those wonderful machines to get a deposit back on cans etc.

  304. John Lindsay says:

    The main issues to tackle are education and law enforcement.
    Both require significant funding to make them possible.
    The funding can be extrapolated easily from the fat cat salaries of the top brass executives in the councils across Britain. Reduce their salaries or adjust them by making them more accountable. There is no room for complacency anymore! Eventually the exercise will be self funding by means of fines. But when the fines decline (in about 100 years time) then soon enough so does the money, so therefore reduce fat cat salaries from day 1 to fund the litter disease of Britain. This money will help towards supporting the initiatives for educating the public and for policing the offenders for the sustainable longterm.

    • Helen Piper says:

      I don’t see that our Councils will ever be able to eradicate this problem. Its the attitude of people that needs to be changed. We need some highway patrols fining people and councils taking some air time on TV and radio to educate people. Also the take-away restaurants should play a part as its mostly their rubbish that ends up being thrown out of vehicles. Perhaps schools could allocate an hour per class per week to go out and clear up litter as part of their ‘humanities’ studies. As for chewing gum, there countries that don’t allow it by law – does anyone really NEED chewing gum?

  305. L Halsey says:

    Chewing gum is becoming a progressively worse problem on Britain’s streets, particularly town centres. It is comically (horribly) bad in many places, and makes the pavements look like they are diseased. And, as usual, this issue not anywhere near so prominent in other countries. I’ve never seen streets being cleaned of chewing gum (which requires high powered water sprays). I think many British town centres are NEVER cleaned of chewing gum, which means throughout the long life of a pavement the stains build and build, becoming ever more horrible year on year. Why councils don’t clock how embarrassing the chewing gum stains on their roads and pavements look, I’ve no idea.

    Solution? Tax the chewing gum companies. And there has been non- pavement and shoe sticking chewing gum available for 10 years now (invented by a British company). Why not ban chewing gum brands that stick to pavements and shoes?

  306. Douglas Dimpsey says:

    A40 between the target roundabout and the slip road to the Polish Wat memorial, contacted Ealing council three times to clean it up,but as yet no sign of cleaning.Ealing council not fit for purpose.

  307. Kim Waters says:

    I travel down th A1 in Hertfordshire to work every morning.
    I sit in slow moving traffic looking at other people’s
    Rubbish and rubbish left by ighways workers, hard hats, reflective vests etc.
    By the time I get to work I am both depressed and embarrassed that we live in this couldn’t care less attitude.
    The penalties are there but never enforced.
    There should be a tax on fast food and take away coffee which pays for more cleaning up. This should also apply to chewing gum.
    Kalsomine don’t understand why when the cur the verges can’t a lorry follow to suck up all the chopped up litter. It is just getting worse.

  308. Marion Kinnear says:

    In Canada there is no litter. The metal bins everywhere are huge and have heavy lids so that litter cannot escape. People are educated to dispose of litter to prevent bears and wildlife swallowing waste. Maybe bins eg in lay-bys could be a better design and bigger with lids. Bring back public information films and hammer home the unacceptable littering that currently blights nearly every road and junction in this country. Employ specialist teams who patrol regularly especially junctions and slip roads both to clear up litter and to fine littering drivers.

  309. Louise R says:

    Useless (leaked) litter proposals. Absolutely spineless, particularly insulted by the proposal to ‘have more days where we ask the public to do the job we, local and national government, are meant to do and which people pay tax for’. Peter’s suggestions need to be taken on board and instigated.

  310. ceri blower says:

    When our children were younger we used to go to Egypt on holiday and the roads there were always lined with litter as there was not the infrastructure to deal with it. Now, the roads I travel on look pretty much as bad as Egypt did. I regularly travel from Surrey to Cornwall – M25/M4/M5/Devon Expressway – all bad, particularly around junctions. Surrey to Cambridge – same thing. Except for one stretch on the M11 where signs say it has been recently litter picked and they collected 90 bags. If people can be caught on camera speeding, why not littering?

  311. Mike Waight says:

    Area: the A350 (both sides) between the M4 (Junction 17) and the roundabout junction with the A4 (Corsham road), on the western outskirts of Chippenham. The amount of litter on the verges and roadside is absolutely disgusting. Apart from the usual food and drink type of litter there is plastic sheeting, planks of wood, old traffic cones, damaged roadsign pieces. It’s an absoute disgrace, more so when you think of all the foreign vehicle traffic that heads up and down the A350 from the south coast. What they must think of Britain’s litter-fest I dread to think.

  312. Brian Fowle says:

    I recently had occasion to drive the M20 from junction 1 to junction 8 and then onto the A20 for ten miles or so, I couldnt believe the amount of roadside litter on both roads its such a shame as Kent is a beautiful county, I drove from Essex and thought parts of the A13 were bad enough but I’m not sure which is the worst now.

  313. Julia Morgan says:

    I wish to complain about the continuous stream of litter that lines the edge of the A14 from where it meets the M6 and then for miles in an easterly direction. It is a disgusting eyesore and should be cleaned up and the road users educated about littering and fined it they are caught doing so. Thank you. (December 2016)

  314. Philip Swift says:

    A reason debris and Litter are not being cleared from our carriageways is the zero-lane-crossing policy. Whereas it was the case that contractor staff would walk to a reservation and remove potential hazards, they now require traffic management (TM) and this costs money. So it is not cleared – despite being a contracted service.

    Instead, the clearance tends to follow after an incident at the location.
    There is an irony; failure to clear may give rise to blocked gullies and surface water or the presence of debris that could puncture a tyre … which result in a collision that enables the contractor to clear the gully and remove the debris.

    Some contractors are not undertaking a paid-for service but are being paid twice for doing so – under the contract and when billing the party who caused the damage; a driver, fleet or insurer!


  315. Mike Pease says:

    The central reservation of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds has a disgraceful litter problem. I’d like to be more specific as to areas but unfortunately cannot – it all needs cleaned! Does anyone know whether Highways England has a policy for clearing central reservations? If not I shall make a Freedom of Information Act request. Thanks.

    • James Vincent Miller says:

      Hi Mike, HE tends to only clean central reservations when undertaking other works that facilitate it such as resurfacing, barrier repairs or replacement. In other words, they are rarely cleaned.

  316. S Hickson says:

    All Slipways, verges, undergrowth from M25 junction 3 to A20 and M20 are in a shocking state, grade C and D in numerous locations. All slipways, verges, undergrowth from M25 junction 4 to A21 also heavily littered, grade B, C and D in numerous locations. Much of this litter has been there for months – appalling situation.

  317. Iain Dreger says:

    Hello Peter, the A27, especially the stretch around Brighton, continues to look more like a refuse tip than a trunk road. More national disgrace than National Park. I’m currently commuting regularly between Brighton and Berkshire, and the A23 – especially the section between Brighton and Handcross – runs the A27 close for litter. It’s awash with consumer and commercial rubbish. It must be well over a year since it was last cleaned. By contrast, the south-eastern section of the M25 is mostly quite clean. How can standards differ so much? Thanks for all you’re doing to fight for cleaner roads.

    • James wright says:

      I just had this reply from Brighton and Hove council. It would appear that Peter’s excellent work in pressing the council is paying of-

      Dear Mr Wright,

      Thank you for your email.

      The A27 is scheduled for a litter pick up in the second week of January and upon liaising with the Highways Agency will be planning on similar every three months thereafter, to enable safe litter picking.

      I can advise that during the summer months when the mornings are lighter and it is lighter longer the A27 is cleaned regularly, as we can only send the Streets Teams out when the road it quite and light for their own safety.

      Kind regards


      Customer Service Advisor | City Clean | Brighton & Hove City Council
      T 01273 29 2929 | brighton-hove.gov.uk

  318. James Vincent Miller says:

    M4 from Swindon to Bristol is filthy, grade C or D. Interestingly noted a distinct contrast between the Skanska section and the section managed by Kier. The Kier section before is far cleaner Swindon is far cleaner. I have submitted a formal complaint to HE and await their response.

  319. Anthea Dempsey says:

    This afternoon (09/01/17) I drove on the A23 north from Pyecombe to Bolney. This road is very heavily littered and it is distressing to see it still in this state.

  320. John Lindsay says:

    Both A355 approaches to intersection with J2 at M40 (in every direction) are litter strewn. It has been at least 6-8 months since any litter and/or debris was collected.
    Responsible authority is South Bucks District Council.
    If litter is not collected on a regular basis the consequence is that irresponsible motorists are much less likely to refrain from throwing more litter.
    The latter is not a good enough excuse, more like a national disgrace, on the one hand the motorist is responsible, on the other hand the SBDC has a legal obligation to clear the roadsides of litter.

  321. Peter Bourne says:

    My two booby prize roads.
    Recent trips car have left me with the conclusion that the filthiest main roads in Britain are the A23 (to Brighton) and the A 14 (in Northants). The lay-byes in the latter are a particular disgrace – overflowing Sulo bins and resultant piles of detritus. This is especially shaming as the majority of parked lorries there seem to be foreign nationals on their way to the port of Felixtowe. There is surely no point in local authorities providing bins if they have no intention of actually emptying them!
    Having just returned from driving on the motorways of France and Germany, I am especially ashamed of how filthy our roads are in comparison.
    Peter B.

  322. DavidG says:

    A3 southbound slip onto M25. I am constantly reporting litter here. Every time I do, it seems to get a bit better and then it quickly becomes a nightmare again. People stop at the lights and use this as an opportunity to springclean. HE are obviously reacting to reports but failing in their duty to maintain a level of cleanliness.

  323. John Lindsay says:

    A355 approaches to intersection with J2 at M40 (in every direction) are litter strewn.
    It has been at least 6-8 months since any litter and/or debris was collected.
    Responsible authority is Bucks County Council.
    If litter is not collected then motorists are less likely to refrain from throwing more litter.
    The latter is not a good enough excuse, more like a national disgrace, on the one hand the motorist is responsible, on the other hand the council has a duty and a legal obligation to clear the highways of litter debris to keep highways safe and to reduce health hazards too. What has happened to our country ? Do we have such disdain for it ? Where is our sense of patriotism,morality and common sense ? Deep rooted problems in education have much to answer for. But we need to take more individual ownership and responsibility. Fines for littering ? How can they be enforced if when you need a police officer they are nowhere to be seen ! Probably will result in More CCTV’s … what a joke

  324. Geoff Sargeant says:

    Peter – I have followed your efforts for some time now , and have great admiration for your work – I am continually amazed & saddened by the state we have allowed our country to get into . I try to do my bit locally , but it is a thankless task . However if the authorities did more to keep areas clean ,it may discourage the thoughtless discarding of litter that presently happens .
    I travel the A38 regularly , from J28 to Derby ,and it is in a continual mess … the lay- bys in particular are terrible – one near Little Eaton looks like a local waste tip !!

  325. Graham Precey says:

    Its good to see how many people like me care for the state of the roads and I think we are the majority but like so many things in life, its a minority that ruin it for everyone else. Since I moved to the west country, near Chippenham I have been amazed at the amount of litter there that is thrown out of peoples car windows onto the verges. Every intersection has a mound of litter and idillyic coutry roads are strewn with beer tins, coffeee cups and burger wrappings. My trips down the M4 are equally depressing and I suspect a lot of the litter comes from trucks transporting the litter to dumps. However, as we all know, when there is litter it only makes it more likely that people will drop it themselves. Why not? everyone else does it. The amount of fly tipping around here is scandalous also.Its obvious the local councils aren’t interested to clean up but I suppose they have other financial worries at the moment. (a recent trip to the wealthy Surrey countryside was an eye opener as I saw very little road side litter) Which comes to my point which is that there has to be public education and a firm deterrent. I see some of the M4 now has cameras and warning signs about littering. There was talk of car owners being fined £500 for allowing litter to be thrown out of their cars, but I havent heard more of that. Such a deterrent would allow for more litter cameras around hot spots and be basically self funding. Getting a £500 fine would certainly make people think twice. But the only real way is education as certainly a lot of the littering my way is almost certainly done by teenagers.

  326. Mark Godfrey says:

    The stretch between A13 wennington Essex to the QE2 bridge Dartford / M25 turn off .
    Also the stretch of A13 to the Rounderbout to wennington and M25 .
    Full up of litter , and Rubbish especially in the trees and bushes , grass verge .
    It is disgusting especially takeaway containers with food waste and Rats and mice seen running and eating the waste .
    Plenty of plastic and glass bottles all over the grass verge leading up to the Rounderbout .

  327. JEANE DOY says:

    The state of our roadsides and verges begs the question are we the dirtiest country in the EU? Sadly I think we are and very little is being down by the government to reverse this. Unlike our european citizens we are a country of prople who like to eat and drink on the move and too much of this litter is thrown from car windows. More public broadcasts highlighting the problem, and taxing of take away outlets has to happen. Until we tackle the mindset that it is OK to discard littler from our vehicles, the prolem will continue. Do members of the government drive with their eyes averted to the problem, and are they not ashamed that our roadsides are in such a state?

    • Fifth richest economy in the world with a monarchy respected by the world yet we as a nation called Great Britain seem to bathe in the glory of a heavily littered land. Newver saw any road litter in northern France and Germany when I drove from Calais to Frankfurt. Driving from Folkestone to North Kent on my return journey home, I lost count at the tonnage of litter I saw.

  328. Steve Dennard says:

    Littered HE trunk roads (ATPRs)
    South on the A2 East Rochester Way from Eltham to Bexleyheath. The side of the road is covered in plastic carrier bags, bottles, plastic bottles, other waste. I have travelled along this road for the last few years and have never seen any clearance.

    Of all the Uk’s littered A roads I regularly use that are awash with litter – A23, A27, A249, A34, A13 etc – the A2 East Rochester Way is probably the worst.

    • Philip Mounstephen says:

      Agree entirely about the A27 – travelled along it from Havant to Chichester the other day. Awful litter on the barges.

      Likewise the A34 – notably in the Vale of White Horse Council section. Clearly not fulfilling their responsibilities.

    • Completely agree. I used to commute to London from North Kent on this route back in 2009 and the road then was heavily litter and no evidence of clearance especially near the Eltham interchange. The Blackwall tunnel approach and slip roads was off the wall with litter and probably still is. Disgusting country really. Not sure who is worse? The litter throwers or the contemptuous cleansing authorities and politicians that could solve this problem in the short and medium terms by funding a decent national litter removal service that is separate from Highways England.

  329. Paul Hunt says:

    Littered HE trunk roads (ATPRs)
    The lay-by on the A50 (Westbound) under the SawleyJct is heavily littered and obviously has not been de-littered in a considerable time. According to Littergram, the responsible council is North West Leicestershire.

    Photographic evidence and map submitted to Clean Highways.

    • Nathan Brooks says:

      That’s a disgrace regardless to whether it is Highways England or local authority responsibility. This highlights just how little HE, local authorities and more importantly, central government care about the enironment in Great Britain. Unfortunately, this sight is not uncommon now and you don’t go far to see piles of uncollected litter and more recently, large items being dumped on motorways and main A roads.

  330. Paul Hunt says:

    Highways England trunk roads – A38 Notts/ Derby
    Great site! I’ve submitted a complaint to HE about the disgusting state of the stretch of the A38 between the Toyota and Branston roundabouts that I’ve been using to commute to my place of work in Burton on Trent over the past six years. In that time I’ve seen only ONE (very half-hearted) attempt at cleaning this stretch. As you can see from the photo’s this stretch of road is in a very poor state.

    • Paul, You are right to complain to HE. The A38 in your area is an HE road BUT each local authority along the route is meant to pick up the litter!! I am campaigning to get responsibility for this to be transferred to HE but am meeting stiff resistance. Peter

  331. Iain Ambler says:

    Was travelling on the M25 east and west bound several times over Xmas, from J20-J27. First, the good news: J20-21 appeared to have been relatively recently cleaned and I did see 2 contractors cleaning yesterday (4th Jan) the eastbound M25 between J21/22.

    The inevitable bad news was that the rest of that section was very badly littered in both directions and laybys in particular absolutely disgusting.

    I really cannot understand how you can allow this situation to persist; quite apart from any legal argument, its shameful that the principal ring road in this country be maintained in this state.

    I trust you will act swiftly,


    Iain Ambler

  332. Scotland / Debris
    Peter, I greatly admire your excellent work south of the border. My own FoI / EIR requests of all ‘duty bodies’ in Scotland have shown that ALL are failing to follow guidance in COPLAR.
    Now practicing with new Dashcam from Santa to gather evidence to take them to Sheriff under section 91 of EPA90 Your own efforts and those of others noted on your site are an inspiration.
    Important note to readers – do not let the focus on litter blind you to the amount of detritus and other debris on roads which obscure road safety markings; choke drainage systems causing localised flooding; can contribute to RTA’s especially with two wheeled transport and allow weed growth which destroys tarmac surfaces.

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