Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 1 April 2016


During my years at Westminster I have fought many campaigns with varying degrees of success: Trident refitted in Devonport rather than Rosyth, more respite care for families with profoundly disabled children, and our vital rail link upgrade.

I feel another one coming on. The amount of Highways litter in our area is now becoming utterly unacceptable. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 places an obligation on relevant "public bodies" to pick up litter as often as reasonably practicable. For our purposes this includes Plymouth and Devon Councils and Highway England which owns and manages the A38. 

Unfortunately this obligation has been watered down in the code of conduct the Department of Environment Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have produced and is not mentioned in recent regulations produced by the Department for Transport. It has become common practice for councils to pick up the litter when they are carrying out other functions, such as grass cutting or tree maintenance, which might be once in a blue moon.

Which is why our hedges, verges and highways look so disgusting.

Given all the other problems we are facing, does it matter?Yes. Apart from the health hazard, if we let our area become covered in litter, other standards of behaviour will deteriorate. Also this is a prime tourism area. How disappointing it must be for people to descend upon our beautiful region for a break to be confronted with so much litter.
What is to be done? You do not often see people throw things out of cars but it must happen and we must stop doing itKeep Britain Tidy. Much of the rubbish seems to be the left overs of takeaway meals and the burdens we place on McDonalds and KFC to tackle this need to increase.
Much of the litter appears to be rubbish from skip lorries and rubbish clearance, for example the long strips of plastic-bag-type material. We need to look at the regulations covering such activity.
I have tabled some questions to DEFRA about the code of conduct and when I get answers will start to work on this campaign. We know that local authorities do not have the budgets they once had, and never will have again, but they must do better. There is scope for volunteer activity here also, and for those organising community service to be more creative.
But government must get the regulatory regime right and that is where I will begin.


posted by Gary @ 16:47