HC Deb 19 September 2002 vol 390 cc244-5W
Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment(a) has been and (b) is planned (i) by and (ii) for her Department on the problem of litter for (A) local authority roads, (B) trunk roads and motorways, (C) railway lines and (D) canals and other waterways; and if she will make a statement. [64740]

Mr. Meacher

The Environment Protection Act 1990: Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse defines standards of cleanliness for various locations and specifies periods of time within which any particular area should be returned to the appropriate standard, should it fall to a lower standard.

The Highways Agency is responsible for litter clearance on motorways and a few all-purpose trunk roads transferred under section 86(11) of the Act. All other roads are the responsibility of the local Districts and Borough Councils in respect of litter and refuse.

The managing agents and contractors employed by Highways Agency carry out daily safety patrols and weekly safety inspections on the motorways during which they also report on instances of litter accumulation. The contractor then removes litter to achieve the overall cleanliness standards set out in the Code.

The Highways Agency aims to secure continuous improvement in its routine maintenance through a move towards performance related procurement for all new contracts. One of the performance criteria of these new contracts is an environmental amenity index that examines the overall appearance of the road taking account of litter and debris, grass cutting, weed growth, cleanliness and visibility of signs.

Under the Pathfinder Programme, which I launched last year to address, amongst other local environment quality issues, ways of tackling litter in canals and other waterways, a methodology is being developed for DEFRA which allow the problem to be assessed.

It is planned that this methodology will be developed into a code of best practice for use on canals and other waterways.

I understand that Railtrack have in hand a national programme to ensure that the lineside is clear from surplus engineering material and debris by October 2002; and that systems are in place by the following month to prevent the future build-up of such material.

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