Long Buckby farmer picks 181 bags of litter on road to Daventry and wants corporations to foot the bill

Joe Adams is pictured with one-tenth of the 181 bin bags of rubbish - this haul was collected in one day on 300 metres of the B4036 between Daventry and Long Buckby
Joe Adams is pictured with one-tenth of the 181 bin bags of rubbish - this haul was collected in one day on 300 metres of the B4036 between Daventry and Long Buckby

It took Joe Adams 10 days to cover a 3.3km stretch of the B4036 between Long Buckby and Daventry on foot.

Were he just out on a leisurely stroll it would have taken Joe roughly 35 minutes but, armed with a litter picker, the farmer was instead collecting discarded rubbish from the roadside.

He estimates he has filled 181 bin bags of litter and even found cans with detachable ring pulls in his haul; these were phased out in 1989 meaning some of the rubbish is at least 30 years old.

"I think there were on average 150 items in each bag, which means there were over 25,000 bits of rubbish or one every 13cm," said Joe.

"I decided to do the job myself before lambing starts and bought myself a litter picker and a lot of bin bags.

"I'd already got a high-vis that came free in the Farmers Weekly.

"I originally meant to only do a small length of road but once I started I couldn't find a good place to stop."

Joe decided to undertake the task after the council told him it couldn't fund it nor legally sanction the job.

A council spokesman explained that under national safety rules, if the verge and litter on a road with a speed limit of more than 40mph is less than 1.2m from moving traffic, permission for traffic management from the highway authority must be obtained.

Cllr Jo Gilford, environment portfolio holder on Daventry District Council, said: "Road users can understand the need to ensure most roads are open most of the time."

So Joe took matters into his own hands.

He said: "The issue is people throwing litter out of their cars because they don't want it in their cars.

"No amount of fining, signs or adverts on telly are going to stop this.

"So all we can do is clean it up - litter breeds litter and if somewhere looks tidy it's less likely people will join in.

"But who is responsible for cleaning it up? The council shouldn't be spending all of our money on a problem that shouldn't exist.

"Nor should people like me have to do it, we've all got jobs to do.

"The answer is fairly obvious if you were to tip the 181 bin bags out - the producers of the rubbish should be funding the clean-up."

Joe proposes to do another litter pick in a year's time and catalogue and re-bag every bit of identifiable rubbish according to the manufacturer.

Using this information he would then create a 'Litter Index' with the percentage of litter picked attributed to each manufacturer, right down to the nearest 0.1 per cent and then invoice each manufacturer their corresponding percentage of the total cleanup bill.

Joe said: "Their defence will be that once sold the product ceases to be their property - my response would be 'prove you sold it, and to whom'.

"If they cannot prove who they sold it to, they are liable - ethically if not legally.

"Also, they have a moral obligation; they are fully aware that the products they are selling will end up as litter, yet they continue to sell them."

Cllr Gilford said DDC was soon launching a scheme to help residents tackle litter.

She said: "Litter is a scourge on our environment and it is extremely disappointing that some people think it is acceptable to throw their rubbish wherever they like.

"Fortunately, we have excellent support in Daventry District from groups and individuals who regularly access equipment and support from us in order to carry out clean-up events in their communities.

"This will be further extended with the launch of a new scheme to provide litter-picking kits to parishes, community groups and individuals across the district.

“We want to change the anti-social behaviour of the small number of people who cause this blight on our beautiful district, so we will take action against the perpetrators of littering or any other environmental crimes whenever we can."

Littering is a criminal offence carrying a maximum fine of £2,500 - it can be reported on the council's website or by phone 01327 871100.