UTTER RUBBISH: Withcott Litter Patrol members Eric Canning, John Bennett and Dave Quade. Mr Bennet has labelled TMR “full of it” after they told the Gatton Star they did not support community members collecting rubbish from the Warrego Highway. Picture: Meg Bolton.
UTTER RUBBISH: Withcott Litter Patrol members Eric Canning, John Bennett and Dave Quade. Mr Bennet has labelled TMR “full of it” after they told the Gatton Star they did not support community members collecting rubbish from the Warrego Highway. Picture: Meg Bolton.

Litter group rubbishes Hwy trash collection safety warning

RUBBISH strewn along the Warrego Highway is an eyesore from Ipswich all the way Toowomba.

But individuals and groups trying to deal with the mess have been told “thanks, but no thanks” by the transport department.

With the introduction of the Containers for Change scheme, thrifty community members have been combing the Warrego Highway and other major roads, collecting cans, bottles and other items thrown out by litterbugs.

But, far from being appreciative, the Department for Transport and Main Roads has told the rubbish collectors they aren’t welcome.

A spokesperson for the department told the Gatton Star while littering was a major issue in the state and costs “millions of dollars to manage and clean-up each year”, they would handle any litter.

“We do not support members of the public removing rubbish from the road reserve between Ipswich and Toowoomba due to the high safety risks associated with this heavily trafficked section,” the spokesperson said.

“Pedestrians are not allowed to enter road lengths where a ‘no pedestrians’ or ‘road access’ sign applies.”

The spokesperson added the department’s officers have the necessary ‘exemptions’ to carry out maintenance work, including collecting rubbish.

“Where littering happens on the road network, we carry out regular collection during the mowing cycle. We also conduct additional maintenance where needed,” they said.

“We prioritise maintenance work, with safety being the highest priority.”

The statement angered Withcott Litter Patrol member John Bennett.

The litter patrol once a week sweeps the Withcott section of the highway, collecting not just containers for a cash refund but also any rubbish.

Mr Bennett said waiting for TMR to clean up the highway during mowing cycles would be “ridiculous”.

“They’re full of it,” he said.

“It’s not acceptable – it’ll be bloody terrible. The place will look like a dump.”

He said the argument that it wasn’t safe to collect the rubbish didn’t fly as the group wore hi-vis vests and had safety plans in place.

“We’re off the road – the rubbish doesn’t sit on the road it goes to the footpath and the median strip,” he said.

The litter patrol has been running for 22 years, and Mr Bennett encouraged others to come a long and help out on a Tuesday morning.

Anyone interested in becoming involved should phone John Bennett on 0458 410 711.