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Roads: Litter

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 32247, tabled on 23 March 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to ensure that public bodies under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 comply with their duty to pick up roadside litter.

Answered on

12 April 2016

The Government is committed to localism and the transfer of power to local communities. This is particularly relevant in dealing with litter, which requires a local approach, tailored to the characteristics of the area and the community in which the problems occur.

It is up to councils to decide how best to meet their statutory duty to keep their relevant land clear of litter and refuse and how to prioritise this against other local services.

Councils are responsible for keeping their “relevant land” clear of litter and refuse, including local roads. Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency) is responsible for clearing litter from motorways and some trunk roads. Standards of cleanliness for litter and refuse are set out in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, which provides a practical guide to the discharge of councils’ cleansing duties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA).

If a litter authority which is responsible for publicly-accessible land fails to keep land clear of litter and refuse, it can be taken to court. If the court agrees that the complaint is justified, it can issue a Litter Abatement Order (LAO) requiring the litter authority to clear land of litter within a certain time. The litter authority can also be ordered to pay the complainant’s costs.

It is a criminal offence not to comply with an LAO - anyone not complying can be fined up to £2,500. They can also get further fines of up to £125 a day for each day the offence continues after conviction. Court action can be avoided if litter authorities clear the land within five days of being notified of the complainant’s intention to seek a Litter Abatement Order.