Motorway litterbugs will be punished, Environment Secretary pledges

Tougher measures targeting people who throw litter out of cars have been promised after it was revealed seven tonnes of rubbish is thrown on to the M8 and M9 every month.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has proposed making littering from vehicles a specific offence after it was revealed approximately 1,300 bin bags full of rubbish are collected from the side of the two motorways each month.

She joined litter pickers at the M9 near Linlithgow in West Lothian to see the scale of the problem for herself.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham collecting litter from the side of the M9
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham collects litter from the side of the M9 (Scottish Government/PA)

Ms Cunningham said: “There can simply be no excusing the practice of littering from vehicles, which is why I am committed to introducing tougher measures to tackle this issue.”

Littering is already an offence under the Environmental Protection Act but Ms Cunningham suggested new laws strengthening enforcement against people hurling rubbish from their cars.

“I am committed to bringing forward new legislation as part of a future Circular Economy Bill, making it an offence to litter from vehicles,” she said.

“Squads of litter pickers are out on our road network every single day collecting bottles, crisp packets, cans and more, but are facing an uphill battle in the face of mindless behaviour from those motorists and passengers who are choosing to throw their litter out of the window rather than binning or recycling empty packaging at the end of their journey.”

She added: “Scotland is a beautiful country that is being blighted by litter.

“Not only is littering from vehicles completely unnecessary, it is unsightly and it presents a danger, both to other motorists and to the operatives leading the clean-up operation.

“There is also a significant cost to the taxpayer, taking valuable resources away from other public services.

“Current efforts to tackle roadside litter are to be commended and supported as we continue to encourage motorists to not litter.”

Ms Cunningham said she was hopeful a future deposit return scheme – currently being looked into by the Scottish Government, would incentivise recycling and increase the value of commonly discarded items found on the roadside.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham with rubbish collectors beside the M9
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham with rubbish collectors beside the M9 (Scottish Government/PA)

Keep Scotland Beautiful chief executive Derek Robertson said: “With two-thirds of people feeling that not enough action was being taken to reduce roadside litter, we have been calling on the Scottish Government to make a change in the law to allow vehicle owners to be held responsible for littering from their vehicle.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome and positive step.

“The overwhelming view of people living in Scotland is that roadside litter creates a negative impression of our country, and the message for drivers from our Roadside Litter Campaign is that littering from vehicles is unacceptable in Scotland.

“The solution is simple: give your litter a lift, take it home.

“This change to the law is a welcome Government endorsement for that important message.”

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