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Comm VehiclesWhen I reported abundant quantities of insulation being blown off a lorry on the M4 near Windsor neither the Police, the local council or the Highways Agency wanted to take action even though I supplied the name of the company and the registration number.

My understanding is that the operators of the vehicle had committed an offence under Section 87  of the Environmental Protection Act (Leaving litter).

My concern is that as it seems no legal action is ever taken in such cases the perpetrators can go on littering with impunity .

I have therefore written the following e-mail to the Highways Agency to elicit their policy in the event of such incidents being witnessed by their Traffic Officers.



From: Peter Silverman
Sent: 23 September 2014 13:09
To: ‘Castleman, Robert’
Cc: ‘Jane Robinson’; ‘Pochin, Charlotte (Defra)’; ‘Kelly, Jane’; ‘Lisa Morgan’
Subject: Wind-blown litter from commercial vehicles


If one looks at the nature of the litter on motorway verges it is clear that much of it has been blown off the rear of commercial vehicles.

If the vehicle is transporting waste then it is an offence under EPA S34 (Duty of care etc. as respects waste). Otherwise I presume it is an offence under EPA S87 (Leaving litter).

In most cases this light material rapidly ends up on the verge without presenting any hazard to motorists. Our recent correspondence headed “Waste from a lorry on the M4” described a case in point.

I am of the view that there is little incentive for the irresponsible vehicle operator to ensure this material is removed before he, or his driver, sets out on a journey unless prosecutions are brought against offenders.

If you refer EPA S87 Offence of leaving litter – who can prosecute you can see that anyone can initiate a prosecution including the relevant local authority, the Highways Agency and of course the Police. However I appreciate that none of these bodies are under any obligation to do so.

I have reported the recent M4 case to the Highways Agency (HA), the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) and to Thames Valley Police (TVP). Both the RBWM and TVP felt it was a matter for the HA. It could be argued that as the Secretary of State for Transport has responsibility under EPA S89 to ensure the motorways are kept clear of litter, so far as is practicable, that the proverbial ball is indeed in the Agency’s court.

Of course you may legitimately feel that there issues of practicability that prevent you from prosecuting commercial vehicle operators under EPA S87 or that resources could be better used elsewhere.

Your colleague Jane Kelly has expertly explained that where debris is seen falling from these vehicles your Traffic Officers carry out safety interventions stopping vehicles where necessary. Rolling blocks are then set up to remove the debris from the carriageway.

However my concerns relate wind-blown litter which is rapidly dispersed onto the verges without presenting any significant safety hazard. In such cases:

1. What actions, if any, are your Traffic Officers advised to take when they witness such incidents?

2. Does the Agency regard such incidents as potential breaches of EPA S87?

3. If so, does the Agency ever initiate proceedings under EPA S87 against commercial vehicle operators?

4. If not, what are their reasons for not doing so?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Peter Silverman


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