Clean Up Britain brings UK-first court case over motorway litter

16/01/2024
Chris Ames

National Highways is being taken to court in its own backyard over its alleged failure to deal with litter dropped along its network.

Celebrity-backed Clean Up Britain, which focuses its campaigns on litter and fly-tipping along roadsides, has launched an action against the government-owned company under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The case alleges that National Highways has failed to keep the A3 southbound slip road clean at Junction 10 of the M25, currently the site of one of its major enhancement projects.

Clean Up Britain founder John Read has brought the case at Guildford Magistrates court, just down the A3, which is the registered address of National Highways.

The group is being advised by Mishcon Purpose, the specialist sustainability business of major law firm Mishcon de Reya.

Mishcon Purpose says the case is believed to be the first time a government body has been taken to court under litter-abatement laws.

It says Clean Up Britain has challenged National Highways over particular sites of littering and fly tipping in the past year. Each time the company has been compelled to clear up these sites to avoid a court appearance.

The case came to court on 3 January but was adjourned to 7 February.

A National Highways spokesperson said: ‘Littering is a social problem and we’re working hard to tackle it on our roads. We comply with our duties under the Environmental Protection Act.

‘Our people are litter-picking almost every day. To keep them safe we have to close motorway lanes, delaying drivers and costing millions of pounds.

‘We are also trialling AI-enabled cameras to gather evidence to provide to local authorities who carry out enforcement.’

The spokesperson added: ‘But if people don’t drop litter in the first place it wouldn’t need to be picked up.’

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