Scotland takes action to rid roads and rail stations of litter

Minister for Transport launches national Transport Litter Day of Action.

Litter louts across the country will be tackled today (15 March 2012), as a national clean up and clamp-down gets underway to rid Scotland’s roads and rail stations of unsightly litter.

14 Mar 12

As it’s revealed over 53,000 bags of litter and rubbish needs to be cleared from Scotland’s motorway and trunk road network every year, organisations including Amey, BEAR Scotland, Transerve, First ScotRail and Transport Scotland are backing the annual Transport Litter Day of Action, organised by Zero Waste Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful on behalf of the Transport Litter Group, in a bid to clean up Scotland’s roads and rail stations.

To launch the national drive, Minister for Transport Keith Brown met with Glasgow City Council litter patrol teams, who will be working to clear litter hotspots and target offenders in and around the city as part of the Day of Action. 

In addition, 11 local authorities are getting behind the drive, by undertaking clean-ups, educating the public on how to dispose of litter responsibly and enforcing litter laws by issuing £50 penalty fines.

A recent litter audit along a sample of Scotland’s busy central-belt road network found over half of the roads surveyed had unacceptable litter levels (57 per cent), with almost two thirds (71 per cent) littered with confectionary and crisp wrappers thrown needlessly from cars, vans and trucks by drivers and passengers.     

Littering is an offence which carries a fixed penalty notice of £50, and offenders can be liable for a maximum penalty of £2,500 if the case goes to court.

Items regularly thrown from cars onto Scotland’s roads and rails include cans and bottles, fast food packaging, cigarettes and cigarette packets, and other items such as plastic sheeting.

Through the day of action, the supporting organisations are sending a clear message that littering won’t be tolerated, whist highlighting the effect this has on people’s safety, the landscape and the environment.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

“There is no excuse for littering and the Transport Litter Day of Action will send out a very clear message that it's an offence which won’t be tolerated. 

“The problem causes an unnecessary eyesore and creates an environmental problem that costs tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to clean-up. It also runs the risk of spoiling the visitor experience for tourists who continue to come to Scotland in their droves.

"In the run-up to 2014 when the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup will both be staged in Scotland, we want the watching world to see Scotland at its very best - and that includes litter free roads and rail stations.

“Working with partner agencies, we need to change the culture in Scotland to one where this type of behaviour is viewed as being completely unacceptable - a view already shared by the vast majority of the public.

"By focusing on education, litter initiatives and enforcement at a local level, we can tackle this very real problem, and work towards Scotland becoming a zero waste society."

Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, which chairs the Transport Litter Group, said:

“Littering is a national problem which continues to blight Scotland’s landscape.  Not only does it damage our environment, it poses unnecessary danger to other motorists and their passengers, and it costs a huge amount to deal with an entirely preventable problem.

“There is no excuse for people throwing litter from their vehicles when it can be disposed of responsibly at the end of a journey. By highlighting the efforts made to keep our roads and rail stations clean and safe, we hope to influence behaviour and make people think twice about needlessly littering.”

Colin Mackenzie, Amey’s account director for south west Scotland said:

“Amey is a proud member of Keep Scotland Beautiful and fully supports the Transport Litter Day of Action as not only is litter troublesome across the motorway network but also on slip roads where drivers discard their drinks cans, crisp packets, and leftover food from open car windows.

“Our Scottish Trunk Roads Unit (STRU) contract was recently awarded a commendation in the Vision in Business for the Environment Awards in Scotland (VIBES) for our sustainable and low carbon approach to managing the south west motorway network. Our operatives spend over 14,000 hours collecting an incredible 33,000 bags of rubbish each year from potentially dangerous, high speed motorway verges; totalling over 160 tonnes.

“We are wholeheartedly behind this appeal to motorists to stamp out littering and help clean up Scotland’s roads for good”.

Brian Devlin, Executive Director for Land and Environmental Services at Glasgow City Council said:

“Glasgow takes a very strong line on litter and fly-tipping and we lead the way, across Scotland, in taking enforcement action against the culprits.

“If someone drops litter while they are travelling, they might never see the impact – but every street is someone’s home and every bit of litter makes a huge difference to how people feel about the community where they live or work.

“We will be working with Amey to clear up the mess that offenders leave behind – but we will also be on the streets targeting the litter louts.”

Notes For Editors

Notes for Editors

Glasgow City Council’s activity during Transport Action Day of Litter will include:

  • Clearing slip roads from junction 15-17 of the M8 in conjunction with AMEY
  • Enforcement teams from Land and Environmental Services and Glasgow Community Safety Services patrolling key transport hubs , including Partick rail station, Central and Queen Street stations, Buchanan Bus station and the Fotheringay Road/Shields Road area in the city’s southside

About Zero Waste Scotland:

  • Zero Waste Scotland works with businesses, communities, individuals and local authorities to help them reduce waste, recycle more and use resources sustainably.
  • Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan.
  • More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at

For further information about Zero Waste Scotland contact:

Nicola McGovern, Press & PR Manager
Tel: 01786 468890
Mob: 07540 516156

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