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The Highways Agency Network consists of the Motorways and certain  All Purpose Trunk Roads, APTRs.

The Agency are responsible for maintaining and cleaning the motorways. 

For most ATPRs, whilst the Agency is responsible for all other aspects of maintenance, the relevant local authority is responsible for cleaning them.  

However it appears that a number of councils are unaware of this responsibility.

There can also be confusion over who cleans the roundabout at a motorway junction and where the roundabout verge stops and the slip road verge begins.


A180 Grimsby

N E Lincs photo

The A180 connects Grimsby with the start of the M180. It is part of the Strategic Road Network but responsibility for cleansing lies with the local authority

In 2013 Anthony Blake pointed out to  North East Lincolnshire Council that they had this responsibility. This was refuted by the council who said that the Highways Agency were responsible. Mr Blake had to issue them with a  warning notice under EPA S91 before they finally accepted that it was indeed their responsibility Read more about this case.

A34 around Newbury

A34 mapIn October 2014 James Miller complained to West Berkshire Council about “ a disgraceful amount of accumulated litter at the A34 roundabout underneath the M4“.

He was told that “The A34 and M4 are maintained by the Highways Agency” and he was given their telephone number. After pressing the matter he was told that “West Berkshire Council only covers the roads leading to the roundabout. The roundabout is the Highways Agency responsibility

He has written back to explain what their responsibilities actually are really are:

My understanding is that the A34, including the roundabout under the M4, is an All Purpose Trunk Road which is part of the Highways Agency’s Network.

However, whilst the Agency is responsible for all other aspects of ATPR maintenance the relevant local authority is responsible for cleaning them unless that responsibility has been transferred to the Agency under S86(1) of the Environmental Protection Act or as part a DBFO arrangement. Neither applies to any section of the A34.

The Highways Agency are therefore only responsible for cleaning the M4 down to the end or the slip roads. Cleaning the roundabout under the M4 and the rest of the A34 in your area is the responsibility of West Berks“.

 James Miller’s correspondence with West Berks

In December 2014 Richard Ladd-Jones contacted me to say:
“I drove on the A34 today (from Newbury to Winchester). The amount of plastic, supermarket bags etc on the roadside was truly shocking, especially around the Tot Hill service station area – whoever the chump was who allowed lawn mowing before picking up the rubbish ( thereby turning 1 piece of rubbish into hundreds) should be reprimanded”

I wrote to the relevant council, Basingstoke and Deane, as follows:

“Cleaning of A34 – I am concerned about the standard of cleansing / litter picking on the section of the A34 that runs through the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane including the stretch around the Tot Hill roundabout. Is the Borough or the Highways Agency responsible for litter picking the verges”

They replied saying “Re Cleaning of A34 ….Highways Agency look after trunk roads and motorways which in this area are A34, A303 and M3 (all other roads in the area are looked after by Hampshire Highways).”

They are blissfully unaware of their legal responsibility to clean their section of the A34.

My correspondence with Basingstoke and Deane and Hants Couty Council


A66 in County Durham

A66 mapDurham County Council are blissfully unaware of their responsibility to clean the section of the A66 running through their area. They told Carl Pearson that “When we spoke on 11th April I informed you that DCC have no responsibilities for the A66 and that all maintenance, including litter picking, is the responsibility of A-one +.” (A-one + is the local service provider for the Highways Agency).

I have had to write to DCC explaining why they are responsible in law for cleaning this road

M40 J2 Beaconsfield

2010 08 09_EJ2 of the M40 carries the A355 over the motorway. This is a local road not an APTR . The local authority is therefore responsible for cleaning the road itself and the roundabout. However, in 2010 it was discovered that the inner part of the roundabout, illustrated here, was being  neglected by South Bucks District Council. They had mistakenly thought that it was part of the motorway and therefore the responsibility of the Highways Agency. Read more on this here.


Motorway slip road / roundabout verges

J15 M1 Main photo_edited-1In March 2013 I wrote to the Highways Agency as follows:

I would like to draw your attention to the report of litter on land adjacent to the south bound exit slip of J15 of the M1 (illustrated here). This land abuts both the motorway slip road and the roundabout. The latter, I presume, is the responsibility of the local authority. This situation must apply at almost all motorway junctions. In those cases where there is no obvious dividing line how is responsibility for cleaning the land split between the Highways Agency and the relevant local authority?”

They did not reply. Instead I got an e-mail from their contractor which failed to address my question. Read more on this here.


Peter Silverman
11th December 2014


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