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News | Warning following two grass fires on M20

Date Posted: 26th July 2018

Following 2 fires on grass verges on the M20 in the past 10 days, Highways England is warning drivers of the dangers of throwing rubbish from their vehicles amid sizzling temperatures.

With dry conditions on roadside verges, items thrown from passing vehicles such as glass bottles, cigarette butts and plastic can spark fires.

There have been 56 fires recorded on grass verges across England in the past 10 days near to the motorway and major A-road network managed by Highways England.

Highways England emergency planning officer, Frank Bird, said:

"Smoke from roadside fires can drift across motorways posing a hazard to drivers. We've seen an increase in fires on grass verges near some of our motorways, for example on the M42 in the Midlands.

"With the land being so dry, it often only takes a small spark to take hold. We'd urge people to avoid throwing any items from vehicles at any time, but particularly in these hot conditions. Please take all of your litter home with you or dispose of it in a proper manner."

While Highways England clears litter, picking it up close to fast-moving traffic puts road workers at risk. It is also unsightly as well as a risk to wildlife and the environment. The company urges road users to take their litter home and are working with partners such as Keep Britain Tidy to tackle the problem at source and make littering socially unacceptable.

Every year, Highways England removes about 200,000 sacks of litter from across our motorways. Clearing litter from busy roads such as motorways is a huge challenge costing time and money which could be better spent on other priorities.

Drivers travelling in this heat wave are being advised to:

  • Take a bottle of water with them before setting out to ensure they stay hydrated
  • Plan and leave plenty of time for their journeys
  • Check the weather forecast for their destination
  • Check travel conditions before setting out and, where it is safe to do so, during journeys
  • Ensure their cars are fit for the journey

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