Duty bodies often fail to carry out their obligation under the Environmental Protection Act to ensure that our highways and roads, so far as is practicable, are kept clear of litter and refuse“. (EPA S 89(1)).
In England the Secretary of State for Transport, via the Highways Agency, is responsible for cleaning the motorways. For all other roads, the duty body is the local authority.
The Section 91 of the Environmental Protection Act gives the citizen the right to take legal action, via a Magistrates Court, to require a duty body to remove litter on its land where this falls below an acceptable standard. If the Court are satisfied that the duty body is failing in its duty it can issue a Litter Abatement Order requiring it to clean up the offending highway. If by the time the complaint is heard the highway has been cleaned up, the Court, if it is satisfied that at the time of the complaint it was defaced by litter, must award costs to the complainant. (EPA s 91(12)).
Before applying to the Court a complainant has to give the duty body 5 days notice in the form of a Warning Notice. Very often the receipt of the notice will spur the duty body into action.
Please see our taking action page .
Lack of knowledge has meant that very few warning notices have ever been issued and there are even fewer cases of any duty body being taken to the Magistrates Court. Not surprisingly duty bodies have become increasingly relaxed about their statutory duties .
Another legal tool available to the concerned citizen is the the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) which provide the right to obtain information related to the cleansing of highways not only from the relevant duty body but also from their contractors. Information obtained in this way can be used to support an action under S91 or to put pressure on the duty bodies in other ways.
We hope this web site will facilitate the sharing of information and experiences about EPA Section 91, the associated Litter Code of Practice and the EIR with particular reference to roads.