Environment: Litter plea to all road users

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The Highways Agency has called on road users to help tackle roadside litter on England’s motorways and major A roads.

The agency removed 2,904 sacks of litter from motorways in the East region in April alone.

It collects around 240,000 sacks of litter from England’s motorways every year, and is asking road users to make sure their rubbish is responsibly disposed of.

Drivers are encouraged to keep a bag for rubbish in their vehicles, until it can be disposed of in a bin.

Roads minister Mike Penning, the MP for Hemel Hempstead said: “Litter is an unsightly and unnecessary burden and one that we can easily avoid – that’s why we are asking all road users to do something very simple to make the roads safer and more pleasant for everyone.

“The money and resources spent removing nearly a quarter of a million sacks of litter from England’s motorways could be much better spent elsewhere.

“We have a simple ‘Bag it, Bin it!’ message: an easy way to help us reduce litter is for drivers to keep a bag in their vehicle to store rubbish, and dispose of it safely.

“If we all took this simple step, it would be a really positive move in tackling roadside litter.”

Roadside litter is not only unsightly, but is also a threat to the environment and wildlife and can block drains and cause flooding. For highway authorities, clearing litter diverts much-needed resources away from road maintenance and repairs, while items thrown from moving vehicles can be a hazard to other road users.

Environment minister Lord Henley said: “Throwing rubbish out of a car window is completely antisocial and unnecessary. It damages the environment, spoils other people’s enjoyment of the countryside and costs taxpayers millions of pounds each year to clear up.

“We are looking at ways to crack down on drivers who litter our roads instead of doing the right thing - holding on to their rubbish until they find a bin.’

During the summer holiday period the Highways Agency will use Twitter and some roadside variable message signs to remind drivers to dispose of their litter responsibly.

Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Phil Barton said: “Litter is a blight on our environment, making places look unloved and run-down.

“It is not a problem that should be difficult to solve. Doing the right thing is easy and costs nothing. Everyone needs to simply take responsibility for their rubbish. Even when driving, it’s not difficult to put it aside and to bin it when you arrive.

“Our roads should not be seen as being one giant litter bin – the cost of cleaning up after the thoughtless minority is too high and the environmental impact is unacceptable.

“It is time for us all to take some pride in our country – to love where we live.”