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Clean Up Kent campaign aims to tidy up our roadsides and verges of litter

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The Garden of England is drowning in a sea of litter and something needs to be done about it.

That is the message from the KM Group as it launches its Clean Up Kent campaign.

Readers have been contacting our newsrooms in their droves to complain about the state of the county’s major transport arteries.

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Litter on the verge of the A257 between Littlebourne and Canterbury
Litter on the verge of the A257 between Littlebourne and Canterbury

Empty drinks bottles and cans, takeaway wrappers, plastic carrier bags and even an old cistern from a toilet are among the items turning our motorways and trunk roads into eyesores.

Brenda Broughton, of Bonds Cottages, Kingsdown, Sittingbourne, got in touch.

She said: “I use the A2 daily and have to view the disgusting volume of roadside litter. What a dreadful example to set before those drivers entering and leaving the UK.”

The scene on the Molehill Road, near Chestfield
The scene on the Molehill Road, near Chestfield

John and Sue Andrews, of Duke Street, Deal, agreed. They said: “We are appalled by the vast amounts of roadside litter throughout east Kent and in particular along the A2 from Dover to Canterbury.

“The amount of litter on the road verges has become totally unacceptable and seems to have accumulated over many months, if not years.”

Reader Andrew Metcalf is appalled by the state of Detling Hill near Maidstone.

He tweeted: “Shocking view of Kent’s green and pleasant land – thanks truckers and white van man.”

Roadside litter: the facts

  • The litter blighting England’s motorways costs at least £6m a year to collect and could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool four times over
  • The Highways Agency collects more than 7,500 tonnes of litter from its roads each year
  • In one month, the Highways Agency collected 1,013 sacks of litter in Kent and Sussex alone
  • Litter thrown onto the nation’s highways can cause a safety hazard to other vehicles, while the task of clearing roadside rubbish puts workers at risk.

Among the grotspots highlighted are Detling Hill near Maidstone, the whole of the M2, the A249 to and from Sheppey, the A2 between Dover and Canterbury and the A2 near Gravesend.

Councils in Kent spend around £20 million a year clearing roads, pavements and verges.

Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council cabinet member for environment and transport (Con), said: “Kent is one of the most beautiful areas of the country with outstanding scenery, historic towns and wonderful beaches.

“What a shame a minority of people spoil it with litter that could so easily be taken home or put in bins.

“It’s especially reprehensible to see litter thrown from vehicles, so we’re actively encouraging people to reflect on their actions and do the right thing.”

He added: “It’s absolutely disgusting. I couldn’t be more supportive of the KM Group in getting a campaign going because what I don’t understand is that people can chuck litter out of their window.”

The Highways Agency looks after Kent’s motorway network and many of the county’s A roads.

They spend £6m per year picking up litter nationally and say that money to reduce congestion and improve safety.

Spokesman Stuart Miller said: “ We are aware of the issue of litter on our roads including the motorways, for which the Highways Agency has responsibility for litter picking.

“Recently we have removed a lot of vegetation on the verges next to our network so the problem has become more visible for residents and road users.

“We have a regular schedule of litter picking on all of our routes and we also regularly update local authorities, responsible for litter picking on A roads within the Highways Agency network, with any planned roadworks so if they like they can litter pick at the same time thus reducing the cost to them and also the inconvenience to road users.

A dumped toliet cistern on the A299 Thanet Way close to Brenley Corner
A dumped toliet cistern on the A299 Thanet Way close to Brenley Corner

“If there are no roadworks planned then local authorities can apply to have a lane closed, if it is necessary for the safety of road workers, and we can facilitate that for them.”

The agency says the problem would almost disappear overnight if the litterbugs acted more responsibly.

Mr Miller added: “We encourage everyone to take their litter home with them rather than disposing it on the roads as the money spent on litter picking could be used to mend potholes, introduce safety measures and improve traffic flow issues.

“Litter can also be dangerous to road users and can be a contributing cause to road traffic collisions.

"The mindless laziness of the litter louts is in danger of damaging the county’s reputation as one of the most beautiful corners of the country" - Leo Whitlock

The KM Group is calling on readers to send in pictures of the county’s grotspots and to show their support for our campaign.

Leo Whitlock, editor of the Kentish Gazette in Canterbury, said: “The amount of litter defacing the county’s roads is an absolute disgrace and it needs to stop.

“The mindless laziness of the litter louts is in danger of damaging the county’s reputation as one of the most beautiful corners of the country and it has to stop.

“Let us know you back our campaign. Send us your pictures and ideas for solving this problem.”

Either send your pictures to us at cleanupkent@thekmgroup.co.uk or send them to us at on Twitter at @cleanupkent

  • If anyone has a particular issue with a road they can contact the Highways Agency’s information line on 0300 123 5000.

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