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I am often forwarded copies of e-mails and letters that supporters received from their MPs in response to their complaints about roadside litter.

In most cases the MP provides a genuine personal response. However a number are strangely similar. In fact, once you strip out one or two added sentences they are identical reading as follows:

Thank you for contacting me about litter on the roadsides.

I appreciate your concern about this unsightly and environmentally damaging problem, so I am pleased to tell you that Highways England (under its former name, The Highways Agency) published a litter strategy in April 2014. The strategy highlighted that since April 2011 the amount of litter on the strategic road network has reduced by approximately 25 per cent.

Highways England continues to work with relevant partners on litter issues, such as encouraging commercial drivers to ensure their vehicles do not spill litter or debris. This includes working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Keep Britain Tidy to raise public awareness of the dangers and costs of litter.

The Agency also runs campaigns to encourage motorists to take their litter home. It makes use of social media and roadside signs to remind drivers to dispose of their litter responsibly.

Defra also plays an active role in reducing litter and, as you may know, provides funding to Keep Britain Tidy. This organisation is well established and undertakes a range of activities, including educational campaigns in respect of the impacts that litter can cause to the environment.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

I would make the following points:

25% reduction in litter

Following the 2010 spending review the money paid to the Highways Agency maintenance contractors was reduced by 40%. Consequently 25% fewer bags of litter were picked up and more litter left in situ on the roadside.

Interestingly the introduction of the cuts which were rolled out in 2012 / 2013 also coincided with an increase in  motorway casulties

See Highways Agency Litter Strategy is a joke

Keep Britain Tidy

KBT tell me that they no longer receive funding from DEFRA.  Educational programmes are in any case not a substitute for councils and Highway England complying with their statutory duty to ensure their land is kept clear of litter

Peter Silverman
3rd June 2016


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