LITTERING on motorways across the UK has become a serious issue for drivers and locals – and the problem is apparently getting worse.
It is got to the point where motoring group the RAC Foundation fears the nation is approaching a ‘point of no return’ due to uncollected litter piling up on the side of the roads, and becoming embedded in the landscape.
Steve Gooding, director of the foundation, said: “In 1,000 years, we risk archaeologists digging up the past and identifying the 21st-century road network not by the buried tarmac but by the lines of litter that bordered it.”
Responsibility for maintaining the motorways and keeping them free of litter falls on National Highways.
Freda Rashdi, of National Highways, said: “Littering is a social problem and we’re working hard to tackle it on our roads.
“It includes using CCTV in A-road lay-bys to gather evidence to provide to local authorities, who can carry out enforcement.
“We’re also carrying out a trial to understand how message signs resonate with drivers to reduce motorway littering.”
Drivers can report littering on the roads to National Highways.
With the issue escalating, in March this year, 25 MPs signed a motion to raise awareness of littering on the motorways.
The motion stated: “That this House deplores the huge amount of litter on motorways, access road, junctions and verges; notes that there is a crystal clear legal obligation on National Highways to ensure roads are kept clear of litter; and calls on National Highways to act on this obligation, use motorway gantries to promote anti-littering messaging, ensure staff and contractors remove signs, sandbags and cones following roadworks in a timely manner and ensure contracts include financial penalties for not doing so.”
Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead, Sir Mike Penning, branded current levels of littering on the motorways a ‘national disgrace’ and is urging the Government to issue stronger penalties for those caught and for National Highways to clean up the mess.
Penning also believes that National Highways are failing in their duty to keep roads free of rubbish.
He said: “Some of our motorways go through the most beautiful parts of the country. It is like driving through a rubbish tip. We have the technology to prosecute and we’re not doing it.”
Earlier this year, anti-litter campaign group Clean Up Britain launched an action plan calling for the introduction of £1,000 littering fines (up from £150) and for six penalty points on the driver’s licence.
John Read, the group’s founder, said: “We go around the country, and we film motorways and major A roads just to show the public because this is the important thing – the British public need to see what a disgusting, filthy, rancid country they live in.
“It’s really sad to say that but it’s true. And we seem to lost our pride and respect in Britain. We need desperately to get it back because at the moment the country looks like an open cast tip. It really does, it looks like a rubbish bin.”