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The first sentence of paragraph 11.4.7 of DEFRA’s Litter Code of Practice states:

“ On motorways, where safety issues are paramount, it is recommended that cleansing is always carried out alongside routine maintenance to aid maintenance standards“. (My underlining).

Does this mean:

A. When you do routine maintenance (e.g. cutting the grass or cleaning a gully) litter pick at the same time.  


B. Litter picking on motorways is dangerous and the less time spent doing it the better so only cleanse (the more dangerous sections?) when you have to do other maintenance.

I believe the correct legal interpretation is A. The word used is  “always”  not “only”. If you say “always” clean your teeth before you go to bed you are not implying that this the only time you should clean them.

However the Highways Agency and their contractors seem to prefer B as evidenced in the following two communications:

1.An  e-mail from Balfor Beatty Mott McDonald, the Highways Agency’s maintenance service provider for area 10 (Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and South Lancashire) in response to a complaint from Michael Pease to the Highways Agency. BBMM wrote:

“You will appreciate that motorways are a hazardous environment to work and Roadworkers safety must be considered as a high priority in any maintenance activity undertaken. Paragraph 11.4.7 of the Code of Practice states that, ‘On motorways, where safety issues are paramount, it is recommended that cleansing is carried out alongside routine maintenance to aid maintenance standards.’ BBMM have interpreted this to mean that in order to cut down on unnecessary road worker exposure, e.g. placing temporary traffic management just to clear litter, we will wait until other maintenance activities are required and then do it all in one hit. I am sure you will recognise the relative risk to our road workers with the amount of carriageway crossings needed to place multiple temporary traffic management installations. The risk to the travelling public and also impact on journey time reliability, is considerably reduced when taking the above approach”. (My underlining).

2. A letter from Ginny Clarke, a Highways Agency Board Director to Andrew Edgington about the littered state of J1 of the M32

She refers to the junction as “.. difficult to access safely and the traffic management alone would cost £1,000, Clearance of  this litter will be programmed with other with other works to get best value from the traffic management”.

” The Environmental Protection act code of practice ….. states at paragraph  11.4.7 that for motorways litter picking should be combined with other maintenance operations (such as sweeping and gully emptying)”.

If she is adopting interpretation A why would she even mention 11.4.7?

Interpretation B gives the Agency and their contractors a convenient “get out of jail free card” but is totally at odds with the Secretary of State’s for Transport’s duty under Environmental Protection Act S89(1)   to ensure that the motorways  are, so far as is practicable, kept clear of litter and refuse.

The Agency’s service providers should be contracted to carry out routine litter picking to ensure compliance with S89 and should have the  resources in place to carry this work out safely.

Interestingly I have come across an example of the misuse of paragraph 11.4.7 by a local authority. In defending their decision to only cleanse the high speed sections of the A34 passing through their Borough once a year Stockport MBC  stated:

 As highlighted previously we consider that carrying out cleansing alongside maintenance is the most practical and efficient use of our limited resource, as described in the Code of Practice”.

Full text of letter from Stockport MBC

Please refer to How the Litter Code is misinterpreted (1)

Peter Silverman
12th May 2014 




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