The A27 Clean Up Campaign has received the backing of three MPs and all Council Leaders from across Sussex in its quest for Highways England to take over responsibility for litter removal on this major highway which runs through East and West Sussex.
The group of Sussex residents has written to the Transport Secretary pointing out that the current system doesn’t work whereby local councils are responsible for removing the litter but Highways England is responsible for cutting back the vegetation and strimming the grass.
If the verges are strimmed before a litter pick, the shredded litter and plastic becomes too small to collect. It therefore becomes embedded in the soil which in turn affects not only the surrounding wildlife and flora but also over time the water table and later the sea. It also causes blockages to roadside drainage channels and leaves unsightly plastic blown along the roadsides.
Another problem is the amount of litter which is blown into nearby fields, leading to this being shredded during combine harvesting and ending up in the hay used for animal feed.
The A27 is a national trunk road owned by Highways England yet local authorities receive no funding for litter picking it and have to pay Highways England’s contractors for the necessary road closures. Co-ordination between Highways England’s contractors and local authorities is expected to happen to enable litter picks to take place during other maintenance works but invariably this proves impractical leading to some parts of the road being strewn with litter for most of the time. In some places litter has not been picked for nearly 3 years despite this being in contravention of statutory responsibilities.
Commenting on the call to action, Neil Kerridge, Co-Chair of the A27 Clean Up Campaign said: “The poor condition of the road has seen a marked deterioration over the last few years with a substantial increase in roadside litter, grit and other debris. It’s an eyesore for everyone who travels along it, hence the increasing number of complaints, not only from local residents but also from domestic and foreign visitors. Whilst more needs to be done to prevent the litter happening in the first place, through education and enforcement, we need to ensure that the system for removing the litter is as efficient and effective as possible.
“Each of the local authorities and MPs with whom we are working recognises that this is a serious issue which needs to be addressed at national level. We have therefore written to Grant Shapps MP, the new Secretary of State for Transport, requesting that he uses his powers under Section 86(11) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to transfer responsibility for cleaning the A27 to Highways England”
The Group believes that increased efficiencies will be achieved by combining all aspects of road maintenance under Highways England. Its specialist teams, protected by blocking vehicles or planned lane closures, could move seamlessly from one local authority area to the next without the need for liaison between differing bodies with differing priorities. This could be done on a continuous and repetitive basis to make maximum use of the capital assets employed thereby achieving regular and frequent cleaning.
Neil added “Clearly it will be important to ensure that Highways England’s contractors perform the litter removal task to required standards and that incentives and penalties are put in place to ensure that this happens. We are working with Peter Silverman of Clean Highways who is an expert in this field and together we hope to be the first area of many in the country where litter on the major trunk roads is not a national disgrace”.
The letter to the secretary of State for Transport is supported by MPs and Leaders of individual Councils:
1. Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne
2. Maria Caulfield MP for Lewes
3. Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Brighton Kemptown
4. Councillor Neil Parkin Leader of Adur DC
5. Councillor Dr James Walsh Leader of Arun DC
6. Councillor Zoe Nicholson Leader of Lewes DC
7. Councillor Nancy Platts Leader of Brighton and Hove CC
8. Councillor E Lintill Leader of Chichester DC
9. Councillor Bob Standley Leader of Wealden DC
10. Polegate Town Council