Costly clear up from transport litterbugs

Thoughtless litterbugs across Scotland are needlessly costing taxpayers money that could be put to better use on transport improvements.

On average, over 1800 tonnes of litter are cleared from the sides of Scotland’s road and rail routes every year – enough to fill two Commonwealth swimming pools.

In April, almost 4000 hours were spent clearing litter from motorways in Glasgow and surrounding area alone. This has come at a cost of around £60,000 for just one month, enough to resurface around six kilometres of road .

Litter picking alongside busy roads often requires a lane closure, bringing delays to drivers and lost time to businesses. It is also an issue along our railways where clear-up operations can result in line restrictions, known as possessions,.

Transport Scotland and its partners are calling for a change in this behaviour ahead of major events taking place in 2014.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

“Scotland is a wonderful country and its natural beauty is a key factor in attracting tourists. Next year, the eyes of the world will be on us through events such as Homecoming 2014, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup. That is why we need to ensure we present a lasting and positive image that encourages the world to visit Scotland for many years to come.

“Clearing carelessly discarded rubbish is quite simply a needless use of time and money. Cleaner public transport encourages more use, meaning roads are less congested and emissions are reduced, something this Government is firmly committed to achieving.

It is not too much to expect people to bag their rubbish and dispose of it responsibly. Our road and rail crews are doing their bit to ensure Scotland is kept tidy, it is only fair all transport users to do the same.”

Network Rail already works closely with councils across Scotland to manage the impact of fly-tipping and targeting particular known locations. The type of materials dumped includes household goods such as old furniture, washing machines, TVs and waste. The railway is often used as a dumping ground for building products and old car tyres.

David Simpson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland, said:
“Our maintenance teams have to spend valuable time removing thousands of tonnes of litter and waste from our infrastructure every year. This is a completely avoidable task which uses up time that would be better spent on duties that could further improve the performance of our network and the service we provide to the travelling public.”

Transport Scotland is encouraging road users to report any areas where there is a significant litter problem by calling the customer care line on 0800 028 1414. They are also calling for comments on their @transcotland twitter account using #cleanfor2014

Notes to editors

Volume calculations:

The volume of the Commonwealth pool in Edinburgh is approx 2200 m3,

  • The volume of a 16 tonne skip is around 40m3.
  • It would take 55 skips to fill the Commonwealth pool.
  • The 1800 tonnes of litter collected from the transport network each year could potentially fill around 112 skips, the equivalent of two Commonwealth pools

Published 27 May 2013