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Clean Up Britain, a celebrity-backed campaign to reduce litter is taking National Highways to court over the alleged failure to keep motorways clean. 

Founded by John Read, Clean up Britain focuses on reducing litter and fly-tipping on roadsides. The court case has been launched under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, claiming that National Highways has failed to keep one of its current major enhancement projects clean – the A3 southbound slip road at Junction 10 of the M25.

The case has been brought to the Guildford Magistrates Court, at National Highways’ registered address. Mishcon Purpose, the sustainability business specialist from the major Mishcon de Reya law firm, has said this is believed to be the first time a government body faces court due to litter-abatement laws. 

Clean Up Britain has been challenging National Highways over several littering and fly-tipping sites for the past year, but previously the sites have been cleared to avoid the issue being taken to court. The founder, John Read, stated he believes the company is not interested in keeping the roads clean.

John also said: “Our campaign is fundamentally about trying to get through the 20 million people in Britain. Who are lazy, anti-social and selfish, and admit to dropping litter. We need to change their behaviour, but National Highways cannot hide behind that as an excuse.”

A National Highways spokesperson said: “Littering is a social problem and we’re working hard to tackle it on our roads. We comply with our duties under the Environmental Protection Act. 

“Our people are litter-picking almost every day. To keep them safe we have to close motorway lanes, delaying drivers and costing millions of pounds. 

“We are also trialling AI-enabled cameras to gather evidence to provide to local authorities who carry out enforcement. But if people don’t drop litter in the first place it wouldn’t need to be picked up.”

As it stands, the court case has been adjourned to the 7th of February. If found guilty, National Highways will receive a litter abatement order, requiring the area to be cleaned up within a specified time period. 

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