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Changes made by National Highways as M4 named litter hotspot

Changes are being introduced to the M4 in Wiltshire after tonnes of litter was found on major roads in the South West.

Since April 2023, a total of 6,000 bags of litter and rubbish was collected along busy motorways and A roads in the South West, as well as mattresses, cables and carpets.

This equates to more than 24 tonnes of rubbish thrown out of windows or left on the side of the road.

The M4 has been named as a particular hotspot area in the region, alongside the M42, M5 Avonmouth slip roads and M5 Michaelwood Services.

Following the discovery, National Highways is now implementing enhancing monitoring on these roads to ensure that litter doesn’t pile up again.

"It is infuriating to see how much litter has been tossed onto the roadside,” said Andrew Gale, service delivery manager for the South West.

“Roadside rubbish isn’t just unsightly, it is a danger to the environment, wildlife and drivers using our roads.

“Overall, the litter picture on our roads is improving from previous years, but we recognise more is still needed.”

This year, National Highways will introduce geo-fencing laybys along sections of road with particularly bad litter.

This uses GPS technology to create a ‘virtual geographic boundary’, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.

Solar-powered compactor bins will also be introduced which will crush litter to prevent bins from overflowing and save time and money spent on emptying bins.

Some areas of the county may also see digital roadside messages reminding road users to dispose of their litter responsibly.

“We are trialling a range of innovative tech-based solutions to tackle littering on our network, as part of our ongoing campaign to tackle this dreadful social problem,” said Freda Rashi, head of customer journeys for National Highways.

“We’re also exploring ways to reduce the contractor equipment debris left behind after roadworks – which our customers regularly highlight to us as an eyesore.

“The simple fact is that if litter wasn’t dropped in the first place it wouldn’t need to be picked up. So, this is an opportunity to remind people that they too can make a difference simply by saving litter for the bin.”

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