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Critique of two letters from Highways England’s Nick Harris to Barbara Keeley MP

The letters are reproduced below with my comments in red

Dear Barbara Keeley,

M60 motorway litter and associated issues

Thank you for your letter of 2 June 2020 sent on behalf of your constituent, Mr Terry Dean of 2 Gatemere Close, Ellenbrook, Worsley, M28 7UY, highlighting locations along the M60 where he has observed litter ‘hotspots’.

I am grateful to Mr Dean for taking the time to report his observations in relation to junctions 12, 13 and 14 of the M60.

As you’re aware, our responsibilities include removing litter from motorways in England. In doing so, we are required to comply with the Environmental Protection Act and a Code of Practice published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

WRONG! HE’s duty is not just to “remove litter” – as and when their contractors feel like doing so. It is to ensure, so far as is practicable, that they (HE) keep their motorways clear of litter. (EPA S89)

The Code of Practice measures the concentration of litter and grades it into four categories:

Grade A – No litter or refuse
Grade B – Predominantly free of litter and litter refuse apart from small items
Grade C – Widespread distribution of litter and refuse with minor accumulations
Grade D – Heavily littered with significant accumulations

To comply with our obligations, we undertake safety inspections on the motorway network in the North West on a weekly basis. During these inspections, we identify litter and then record a grading in relation to its concentration. From this, we arrange to clear the litter within the timescales required by the Code of Practice. Grade C must be brought back to a Grade A or B standard within twenty-eight days, and Grade D within seven days.

WRONG! It is their contractors, not HE, who, on most of the network, carry out the inspections. As they are paid the same regardless of how much time they spend litter picking they have a financial incentive to down-grade the need for litter picking. HE never penalise their contractors for failing to comply with their contractual obligations with regard to litter. [In the few areas that are subject to the new Asset Delivery regime it is HE that now do the inspections]

WRONG! Duty bodies are expected to set cleansing schedules ( i.e. carry out regular cleansing) so that they meet the duty to keep their land clear of litter. (LCOP 9.1). The response times are only applicable as a last resort if acceptable standards are not met. (LCOP 9.4)

We inspected these locations earlier this month with each location being assessed as Grade A or B. These gradings mean that litter removal work is not yet required, however we will continue to monitor each location during our routine inspections.

WRONG! Again, the contractor would have carried out any inspections. Here are two examples showing how unreliable the information provided by contractors can be.

5 paragraphs not dealing with litter ommitted. See pdf of complete letter.

Yours sincerely

Nick Harris
Operations Executive Director

Dear Barbara Keeley

M60 motorway litter and associated issues

Thank you for your letter of 10 July 2020, on behalf of your constituent, Mr Terry Dean of 2 Gatemere Close, Ellenbrook, Worsley, M28 7UY, about litter and associated issues at three locations along the M60.

I am grateful to Mr Dean for his interest in the matter and I can confirm we removed forty sacks of litter from the section of the M60 between junctions 12 and 13, including the slip roads, on 5 May. The slip roads were last swept in June, with this task being generally undertaken six times a year.

Own goal! Allowing forty sacks worth of litter to accumulate win a one mile stretch of motorway shows a blatant disregard of HE’s EPA S89 statutory duty to keep this highways clear of litter.

Own Goal! The lower sections of off-slip, near the junction with the roundabout, are (a) subject to heavy littering and (b) safely accessible without traffic management they should be attended to weekly not every other month.

Paragraph dealing with vegetation omitted. See pdf of complete letter.

We also collected thirty-six sacks of litter from the westbound exit slip road at junction 14 on 4 May and the slip road was last swept during that month. As with junctions 12 and 13, we plan to remove any vegetation that may be growing in the drainage channels and gullies by the end of August. Within the same timescale, we plan to cut back any vegetation on the verges with the potential to affect safe visibility.

Own Goal! They have allowed 36 bags worth of litter to accumulate on one slip road again in blatant disregard of their statutory duty.

Paragraph omitted. See pdf of complete letter.

Mr Dean’s proposal, that we adopt a rolling programme of cleaning works linked to routine maintenance tasks, is something that we already do. I mentioned in my previous reply that we undertake safety inspections of the motorway network in the North West on a weekly basis. During these inspections we identify litter and record an A, B, C or D grading in accordance with its concentration. The timescale for removing litter depends on the grading, with the worst affected areas (Grade D) requiring restoration to Grade A or B standard within seven days. Grade C must be brought back to Grade A or B standard within twenty-eight days.

WRONG! Getting your contractor to carry out weekly inspections and then allowing them to grade and hence decide when each section should be cleansed based on LCOP response times is not the same as a rolling programme of cleaning works. That would mean cleaning at, for example, weekly or monthly intervals which is of course what is required.

Two paragraphs omitted. See pdf of complete letter.

Yours sincerely

Nick Harris
Operations Executive Director

 

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