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Roads - obstructions

We try to keep the roads clear of dangerous obstructions and spillages whenever they occur or are reported.

All motorways and trunk roads, such as the A1(M), A19(T), A64(T) and A64(T), are the responsibility of the Highways Agency (telephone 0300 123 5000). We are responsible for all other A, B and C class roads and most unclassified roads. We are not responsible for clearing spillages on private roads or private land - that is the landowner's duty.

Our responsibility

We will make the road safe and clear where obstructions and spillages could cause an immediate hazard. This can be very costly. Wherever possible, we try to recover costs from the person who has caused the problem. If you see someone cause an obstruction or spillage on the road, report it to us as soon as possible providing as much information as possible, including:

  • Location;
  • The date the obstruction/ spillage occurred;
  • The vehicle registration (if applicable); and
  • A description of the spillage/obstruction.


If someone obstructs the free passage of cars along a highway, they are guilty of an offence and we have the legal power to enforce removal. A magistrates' court can impose a maximum fine of £1,000 for anyone convicted of wilfully obstructing the highway.


An obstruction is anything that could be a danger to road users, or hold up traffic, including:

  • Weather-related obstructions, for example fallen trees in strong winds, flooded areas and snow drifts;
  • Dead animals on the carriageway;
  • Overhanging trees and vegetation;
  • Mud on the road;
  • Debris on the road;
  • Skips, scaffolding/ hoardings, building materials or street cafes which are only permitted under licence;
  • Advertising boards;
  • Walls, gates, fences and hedges place across the highway;
  • Goods displayed outside shops beyond any private forecourt;
  • Abandoned vehicles (district council responsibility); and
  • Illegal parking on footways and pavements.

Obstructions - frequently asked question

This page was last updated on 2 October 2013