Road users across the UK urged to stop littering after more than 10,000 reports of animals injured, trapped or killed by litter
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The announcement comes after the RSCPA revealed that there were more than 10,000 reports of animals being injured, trapped or killed by discarded litter in the last three years; an average of nearly 10 a day.
Almost half of the people who took part in the study were unaware that fruit like apple cores and orange peels count as litter, especially since they lure animals to their death. The study reveals many driver’s confusion about the link between littering and wildlife, with many oblivious to the fact that discarded fruit and rubbish often poses a real threat to animal welfare. The survey also revealed that, while 90 per cent of road users said they had never discarded litter on the roadside, 60 per cent said they had seen other people do so.
As part of a long term effort to rid roadsides and motorway service areas across the UK of rubbish, National Highways has run a trial using AI-enabled cameras in tandem with a local authority that is carrying out enforcement measures.
National Highways has also trialled message signs to reduce motorway littering, deployed geofencing to send texts to motorists entering laybys where littering is an issue, prompting them to take their litter home, and will be participating in the forthcoming Great British Spring Clean for the ninth year running.
The new campaign will feature on radio adverts, roadside billboards, posters at motorway service areas and petrol stations, and on social media.
National Highways chief executive Nick Harris said: “Littering is a dreadful social problem. It’s not just unsightly, it can have a deadly impact on wildlife, turning verges into lethal roadside restaurants.
“We’re working hard to tackle it on our roads, with our people litter-picking every day. To keep them safe we have to close motorway lanes, which delays drivers and costs millions of pounds.
“But if people don’t drop litter in the first place it wouldn’t need to be picked up – so we urge road users to take their litter home.”
RSPCA lead wildlife officer Geoff Edmond said: “We welcome National Highways’ campaign to raise awareness about the dangers wildlife faces from litter discarded by the roadside.
“Our rescuers deal with thousands of incidents every year where animals have been impacted by litter. Old drinks cans and bottles, plastic items and even disposable vapes are just some of the items that pose a danger to our wildlife including hedgehogs, squirrels, deer and foxes. Animals can ingest the litter, become trapped in it or be attracted to old food on the roadside which puts them in danger of moving vehicles.
“Sadly, for every animal we’re able to help there are probably many others that go unseen, unreported and may even lose their lives.
“But it’s really easy for the public to help. When people are out on the roads, we urge them to hold on to their litter until there is an opportunity to dispose of it safely and responsibly - or recycle where appropriate. As we all strive to create a better world for every animal, this could save an animal’s life."