Annual autumn leaf clearance starts

Published Thursday, 16 November 2017

The annual autumn leaf clearance operation is underway and marks the start of the busiest and most challenging season for street cleaning.

Already, in the first 5 weeks of leaf clearance operations, approximately 450 tonnes of leaves have been cleared from the borough’s streets. With around 100,000 trees across the borough beginning to drop their leaves, the exact time to start leaf clearance is often difficult to predict. By targeting streets where earlier leaf fall is anticipated, such as those roads containing Horse Chestnut trees which traditionally lose their leaves before others, good progress has been made. Changing weather conditions are able to accelerate or delay leaf shedding and so the clearance programme will be adjusted accordingly as the season progresses. 

“Autumn brings a glorious red and gold colour to our borough. Whilst we are fortunate to have so many trees across our Borough, clearing leaves in autumn remains a hugely challenging time for us. We have brought in extra leaving crews to help but nevertheless, it is still a sizeable task. We are grateful for resident’s support who do help clear leaves in their street as part of being a Street Friend. I would also ask you not to be tempted to sweep or blow leafs from your gardens onto the road or pavement, which as well as having legal implications, can undo the good work we’ve already done” said Councillor William Huntington-Thresher, Executive Councillor for Environment.

Leaf clearance is carried out throughout the week and roads with trees that lose their leaves in large numbers early in the season are timed for collection first. As the season progresses and more leaves fall, additional help is enlisted. The leaves are gathered carefully so they are not contaminated with litter and other debris, and then bagged up. Street Friends help with this too, while Kier the street cleaning contractor, collect the bags of leaves and take them for recycling into compost. 

Street cleaning is an important service throughout the year with most residents (74%) satisfied with overall cleanliness, as this year’s street cleaning survey confirms. However, this time of year is particularly demanding. Thousands of trees simultaneously drop their leaves and although extra resources are organised, the enormity of the task and the continual leaf dropping process means that as soon as streets are cleared, further leaf drop inevitably occurs making streets appear messy again. 

Residents are reminded not to sweep leaves from their gardens, drives or pathways into the road, as this reduces street cleaning efficiency, may block road gullies and could cause flooding. The council offers a green garden waste wheelie-bin collection service where members of the scheme can dispose of garden leaves and more through regular scheduled home collections, for an annual fee of £60. For residents who only occasionally have green garden waste, individual sacks of leaves will be collected for £1.60 each. For further details and information on how to join, visit

Leaves and other green garden waste can also be composted at home or disposed of at the reuse and recycling centres - Waldo Road, Bromley and Churchfields Road, Beckenham. For more information on recycling and waste, search