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More than 2,000 sacks of litter have been collected from the North East’s main roads so far this year.
Highways England’s contractors, A-one+, have collected 2,331 sacks of litter from the beginning of January to the end of April this year.
This is compared to 7,014 sacks that were collected in 2015 which equates to 20 bags each day.
Contractors for Highways England have been using new heavy duty equipment to cut back brambles, overgrown bushes and grass to find rubbish and improve the overall appearance of the road network.
Known hotspots include areas around service stations on the A1 motorway and along the A66(M) near Darlington.
As the warmer weather starts to arrive, Highways England is urging motorists to tackle the problem by bagging and binning their rubbish.
Litter thrown onto the road can cause a safety hazard to other vehicles, while the task of clearing roadside rubbish puts workers at risk. It can cost around £40 to collect each sack of rubbish from a motorway – roughly what it costs to fix a pothole.
Highways England’s Michael Hoult said:
Our contractors collect vast amounts of litter from our roads every year, but we’d much rather they spent their time carrying out other essential maintenance work.
The litter on our roads can cause a hazard to drivers, our workers and wildlife, so I’d urge everyone to keep a bag in their car which they can use for rubbish, and then put it in the bin when they get home.
We are always targeting known litter hotspots and we have made a recent effort to cut back brambles and clean up the verges to prevent litter that has been getting stuck to ensure it is neat and tidy. It would be great if these hotspots remained free of litter in the weeks and months ahead.
Highways England is responsible for collecting litter from motorways, and also support local authorities by letting them know if roadworks are planned on major A roads, so litter can be collected safely. The amount of litter collected so far this year also includes some rubbish that has been picked by contractors while undertaking routine maintenance on A roads or as part of a scheme.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.