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The cleansing of any public highway that is not a motorway and where responsibility for its cleaning has not been transferred to a highways authority (Highways England) under EPA S86(11) is the responsibility of the local authority.

This post is about who is legally responsible for cleaning the trunk roads which are part of the strategic network of motorways and trunk roads operated by Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency).

They can be seen on this map alongside the motorways.

Highways England’s position is that while they are responsible for all other maintenance tasks they are only responsible for cleaning a specific stretches of these roads. They are listed here. Litter picking on all other trunk roads is the responsibility of the relevant local authority.  HE cut the grass while the local council has to pick up the litter.

Not all councils agree with HE. Both West Berkshire Council and Basingstoke and Deane councils both deny they are responsible for cleaning their sections of the A34.  Durham County Council say HE is responsible for cleaning their section of the A66. Read more here.

So what exactly does the Environmental Protection Act actually say? Who is right?

EPA S86  (9) says:

Every highway maintainable at the public expense other than a trunk road which is a special road is a “relevant highway” and the local authority which is, for the purposes of this Part, “responsible” for so much of it as lies within its area is, subject to any order under subsection (11) below—
(a) in Greater London, the council of the London borough or the Common Council of the City of London;
(b)[F3in England] outside Greater London, the council of the district;
[F4(bb)in Wales, the council of the county or county borough;] and
(c)the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

(A “trunk road that is a special road” is a  “motorway”. “This Part” refers to EPA Part IV “Litter Etc”).

So this is saying all highways, apart from privately maintained ones and motorways are “relevant highways” and that the local authority responsible for them in England is the London Borough or the  council of the district.

This is however subject to any order under:

EPA S86 (11) which says

The Secretary of State may, by order, as respects relevant highways or relevant roads, relevant highways or relevant roads of any class or any part of a relevant highway or relevant road specified in the order, transfer the responsibility for the discharge of the duties imposed by section 89 below from the local authority to the highway or roads authority…..

EPA S89 (1) says

 1) It shall be the duty of—

a) each local authority, as respects any relevant highway or, in Scotland, relevant road for which it is responsible,
b) the Secretary of State, as respects any trunk road which is a special road and any relevant highway or relevant road for which he is responsible,
to ensure that the land is, so far as is practicable, kept clear of litter and refuse.

(The “Secretary of State” means the “government” and Highways England is an executive branch of the Dept. for Transport).

So according to S89 (1) (a) its the local authority who is responsible for cleaning these roads because  S86(9) says they are relevant highways for which it is responsible.

What S89(1) (b) is saying is that its the Secretary of State /Highways England is responsible for cleaning the motorways (special roads) and any relevant highway for which he is responsible.

So what are these relevant highways for which he is responsible? As we have seen relevant highways are highways maintained at the public expense other than motorways (EPA S86  (9)). Their cleansing is the responsibility of  the local authority (S89 (1) (a)) unless that responsibility has been transferred away from them to a highways authority under EPA S86 (11).

So the cleansing of any public highway that is not a motorway and where responsibility for its cleaning has not been transferred to a highways authority under EPA S86(11) is the responsibility of the local authority.

I have written to Durham County Council advising them accordingly

Councils unaware of responsibility to clean trunk roads and motorway roundabouts

Cleansing of trunk roads which are part of the strategic network

 Peter Silverman
1st February 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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