Britain’s roadside litter problem has been called a ‘national disgrace’ as road authorities and campaigners work to keep the road network tidy…
Roadside Litter A ‘National Disgrace’
According to Highways England, roadside litter poses a risk to wildlife, the environment and the workers who have to pick it up; not to mention being unsightly. As a result, it’s decided to partner up with Keep Britain Tidy in launching a campaign encouraging drivers to do their bit. Richard McIlwain, a spokesman for Keep Britain Tidy, said, “rubbish, dangerously thrown from vehicles and left to rot on our roads, is a national disgrace”. He added, “it damages wildlife that has taken refuge along these valuable corridors that are currently punctuated by chucked food and drink packaging, and millions of flicked cigarette butts”. Ultimately, he suggested roadside litter is the worst kind of littering.
According to Highways England, some 200,000 bags of litter are collected from the motorway network each year alone. Freda Rashdi, a spokesman for the organisation, said roadside littering “puts our workers at risk collecting it; and diverts time and money that could be better spent on improving the network”. Over September, the organisation is launching extra litter picks; and urging motorists to take their rubbish and litter home with them. Rashdi said, “we want to use this campaign as a springboard to a longer-term partnership that will increase campaigning to raise awareness that stops people tossing litter from vehicles once and for all”.
Due to the prevalence of roadside litter, there has been talk of introducing tougher laws. Last December, the Welsh government began weighing up granting local councils additional powers. In particular, it wants to allow them to issue fines to the owners of vehicles from which litter is thrown or abandoned. Because these would be civil fines, councils wouldn’t be required to prove which person threw the litter. Instead, the legal owner of the vehicle would be held responsible. As it stands, a similar system is already in operation in London.
What’s often overlooked is the cost of picking and disposing of litter. Matt Wakelam, assistant director of street scene at Cardiff Council, said costs were exceptionally high due to strict staff safety procedures. In addition, special buffer vehicles have to be deployed to protect workers. Historically, some people have been killed whilst retrieving litter on the motorway network. Wakelam said, “no local authority wants to issue fines; they are a last resort. But we need to take action, because it’s so costly to pick up litter. We hope that with new legislation and residents providing information we can increase prosecutions; and promote an environment where people love where they live”.
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