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This post presents documentary evidence of Highways England’s (Highways Agency prior to April 2015) and the DfT refer to HE’s litter clearing responsibilities in terms of the Litter Code of Practice’s last resort response times.

Jan 2017 –  E-mail from Highways England’s M25 contractor  “For those sections of the network that score a Grade C, we have a period of 28 days to rectify and return it to an acceptable condition”.

July 2017 – E-mail from HE  “Our service provider inspect the network weekly and should be programming in clearance works in accordance with the DEFRA Code of Practice”

Feb 2018 – E-mail from  HE’s M27 contractor  “Depending on the severity of the litter, they’re given a timescale to complete the clearance, usually up to 14 days for slip roads and 28 days for main roads”.

Feb 2018 – E-mail from HE  “If it degrades, we will return it to the required standard within the timescales set out in the Code of Practice.”

Nov 2018 – E-mail from HE Area 12  “In essence we grade the network for litter on a weekly basis and then apply the EPA timescales to any defects which are highlighted”.

Dec 2019 – E-mail from HE Team East re M11 – “The litter at this location was graded on 18 November and this information was passed to our contractors Ringway, to arrange for this area to be picked within 28 days.”

February 2019 – Highways Englands Asset Delivery Asset Maintenance Requirements v1.0 –  Inspection Requirements Sweeping and Cleaning Page 59: “Inspection will support the identification specific area where reactive repair, sweeping and cleaning is required. (The reactive repair, sweeping and cleaning, will incorporate all sweeping, cleaning or litter picking required to restore the area to A grade cleanliness for paved areas, and B grade cleanliness for all other parts of the Affected Property (as described in the code of practice on litter and refuse [Ref 4.N])”.

15th June 2020 – Nick Harris, HE Operations Director to Barbara Keeley MP” – “…our responsibilities include removing litter from motorways in England.  ……..  we arrange to clear the litter within the timescales required by the Code of Practice”. 

25th June 2020 – Rachel Maclean Under-Secretary of State for Transport written answer – “Highways England have confirmed that any restoration measures are required to take place within the timescales set out in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. This states that any areas with special circumstances that falls below grade B, such as carriageways, verges and central reservations of motorways and trunk roads, must be restored back to grade A standard within twenty-eight days or as soon as reasonably practicable”

Peter Silverman


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