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DfT Minister, Rachel Maclean, tries to pull the wool over the eyes of MP Andrew Gwynne in her written answer of 25th June 2020.

Dft written question 25th June 2020

Under Section 91 of the Environmental Protection Act  – Summary proceedings by persons aggrieved by litter anyone can make a complaint to the magistrates court if a duty body, such as Highways England, lets any of the land they are responsible become defaced by litter. The court can issue a Litter Abatement Order. However before doing so they have to give the duty body 5 days notice.

Parliament specified 5 days presumably because they felt that this gave the duty body sufficient time to remove the offending litter and so avoid a summons.

Even in the most challenging locations such as the central reservation of a motorway this would give enough time to put the necessary safety measures in place etc.

However in their Code of Practice on Litter DEFRA state in para 9.5

Duty bodies that allow their land to fall below acceptable standards for longer than the allowed response time may be subject to a Litter Abatement Order (section 91) .. issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In the tables that follow the response time for “carriageway, verges and central reservations of motorways and trunk roads” is given as “28 days or as soon as reasonably practicable”. For a lay-by it is 14 days.

Yet clearing litter within these time frames is clearly not sufficient to comply with Highways England’s duty under EPA S89(1) which is to:

ENSURE, so far as is practicable, that they KEEP their highways (including the verges)  CLEAR of litter and refuse. (EPA S89(1).

I will shortly be taking the matter up with Tamara Finkelstein the Permanent Secretary at DEFRA. Watch this space!


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