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“Disgusting A5” not our responsibility

Mike Coker is a regular user of the A5 through Milton Keynes. He describes it as absolutely disgusting and decided to find out who was responsible for cleaning it. He checked Milton Keynes Council’s web site and found this page:

Please note that the Council are not responsible for clearing dumped rubbish from major highways such as the M1 and A5. These are the responsibility of the Highways Agency and are maintained by Amey Cespa.

Please do not proceed with this form and report these directly by emailing

He pointed this out to Highways England who correctly explained that while the A5 was part of their network and they were responsible for all other aspects of its maintenance  its cleansing was the responsibility of the relevant local authority.

The council’s duty is under Environmental Protection Act S89(1) which requires them to ensure so far as is practicable that the highways for which they are responsible are kept clear of litter and refuse. DEFRA’s Litter Code of Practice says that “refuse”  includes fly-tipped waste. The highway includes all of the land from fence and includes the verges.

It is not clear from MK’s statement whether  “dumped rubbish” includes small items of litter or just refers to fly-tipped waste. However whichever interpretation you take the statement is still wrong.

This is just one more example of a local authority being unaware of their responsibility to remove litter and refuse from those section of Highways England’s  trunk roads which pass through their areas.  We had previously identified similar issues with:

North East Lincolnshire Council (A180)
West Berkshire Council (A34)
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (A34) and
Durham County Council (A66)
Ipswich (A12)

Please refer to Councils unaware of responsibility to clean trunk roads and motorway roundabouts and A12/Ipswich correspondence.

In the e-mail Mike received Highways England said that HE  “regularly monitors the cleanliness of its network and where it considers that the standards set by the Environment Protection Act are not being met, writes to the relevant local authority asking for swift action to be taken to cleanse the area of accumulated rubbish. On safety grounds, any material that is a hazard to traffic (i.e. debris in live lanes) is removed directly by the Highways England as a matter of priority

If Highways England are indeed writing to council as they say it is difficult to understand why so many of them are unaware of their responsibilities.

E-mail to Highways England Chairman 29th June 2015

Peter Silverman
29th June 2015 


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