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Who is responsible for public land being publicly accessible?

Duty Bodies and Statutory Undertakers are responsible for relevant land that is publicly accessible. 

Relevant land is land, and anything on land, which is open to the air - including land covered by water:

  • Hard standing surfaces – pavements, walkways, concreted land
  • Soft standing surfaces – grass, bushes, trees, sand, verges, embankments and open spaces
  • Land covered by water – canals and ponds
  • Land which is publically accessible
  • Land under direct control of a body listed below

Duty bodies

  • Local Authorities
  • Scottish Ministers
  • Crown Authorities
  • Educational Institutions

Statutory undertakers

  • Any operator of a relevant railway asset
  • Light railway / tramway operators
  • Road transport operators
  • Canal operators
  • Port / cock / harbour / pier operators
  • Airport operators

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 and The Litter (Statutory Undertakers) (Designation and Relevant Land) Order 1991 provides more detailed definitions of the organisations who have a responsibility to undertake the duties. 

Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse

The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse provides statutory guidance for public bodies to keep their land free from litter and refuse.It also provides guidance on fulfilling the duties placed on Duty Bodies and Statutory Undertakers.

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