Highways England ask holidaymakers to ‘drop in for a visit, but don’t drop your litter’

roadside litter
Litter dumped on a roadside at the foot of a Highways England ‘Keep Devon tidy’ sign

AS drivers take to the South West for their ‘staycation’ holidays, Highways England is issuing advice to keep the region’s roadsides clear of litter.

Litter on the majority of A-roads in the region is the responsibility of local authorities to clear, but in order that it can be collected safely Highways England often teams up with councils to co-ordinate any necessary closures.

Reducing the amount of roadside litter not only improves the lives of both communities and motorists, but also provides a significant saving to local authorities in terms of time and money spent on clearing rubbish from the roadsides.

Now Highways England is calling on drivers to do their bit to reduce litter levels following the completion of a big regional effort during the Great British Spring Clean.

Chris Regan, South West Head of Service Delivery for Highways England, said: “Littering is a social problem across the country and our priority, working closely with our partners, is to keep our roads safe and well maintained for drivers and neighbouring communities.

“Roadside litter is not just unsightly but it’s a threat to wildlife and the environment and it can also be a safety hazard for drivers, can block drains and picking it up puts roadworkers at risk.

“Litter collections on our A-roads are the responsibility of local authorities and hopefully we can get the message across that litter not only impacts people’s lives but also has a significant economic impact for our councils across the region.”

At the onset of the pandemic last year, Highways England funded and delivered a scheme to install bins and signage in a number of lay-bys on routes across the South West, but local authorities, including smaller funded district and city councils, are still reporting a staggering amount of litter being cleared around their roads.

This year alone, Devon authorities have spent about £7million keeping the county clean, and the Clean Devon Partnership is working with businesses and residents to tackle this anti-social habit.

Highways England, via its contractors, collected 800 bags of litter from the verges of the A30 and A35 in East Devon and Dorset during the Great British Spring Clean.

Work in other South West counties has included the following:

  • Wiltshire Council has collected 2,215 bags of litter and 22 vehicle tyres (around 29 tonnes of rubbish), including 981 bags from the A36 and A303
  • An estimated 20 tonnes of litter, tyres, car bumpers and signage were swept and removed from Cornwall’s trunk roads in a six-week clean-up that started in mid-April.
  • Dorset Council has embraced the Great British Spring Clean with a Litter Free Dorset campaign, including Love Your Verge and Roadside Litter initiatives
  • Plymouth City Council has collected over 6 tonnes of waste from verges along the A38 and slip roads – a stretch of just eight miles
  • Gloucester City Council picked up just over a tonne of litter from the A40 this spring

And over the last month, Highways England has also swept up sackfuls of litter from its motorways in the South West – 300 bags along the M4 and 200 bags from the M5.

Mr Regan added: “As pandemic restrictions are eased, we appreciate a lot of people will be heading to our beautiful part of the world – and our advice to drivers is clear: don’t drop litter.

“Please use any bins provided in lay-bys, heed the signage, and keep a bag in your car to store litter until you can dispose of it responsibly.”

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