Coronavirus: Calls for clarity as tips due to reopen

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Councils say they have seen a rise in fly-tipping in some parts of England

Households in parts of England may be able to take their extra rubbish to their local tip this weekend.

But despite a government plea, some councils have said further measures are needed before refuse sites reopen.

Those authorities say they will only reopen with sufficient staffing, proper protective equipment for workers and assistance from police forces.

On Tuesday, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick told the Commons he expected tips to reopen “within weeks”.

Some areas have reported a rise in fly-tipping since the coronavirus restrictions came into force

Many councils closed waste facilities due to staff absences and to comply with social distancing guidelines, leaving areas with bin collection services only.

Since then, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority joined a number of councils to announce measures to reopen sites safely.

It said its visiting system “based on odd and even number plates” would help reduce the number of vehicles on site, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

A spokeswoman for the authority said a booking system was explored, but introducing it at short notice for 2.5 million residents would have been challenging.

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Councils say in order for tips to reopen, staff must be provided with PPE

Other measures being taken to help recycling centres open include:

  • Daily cleaning, put forward by Hampshire County Council, which also suggested limits on the number of vehicles and reduced opening hours
  • An online booking system, in development by Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, to give residents a time slot for their visit
  • A limit of three cars per site, as well as one-way systems and stewards to manage traffic, put in place by Wirral Council
  • Restrictions on the number of people allowed outside vehicles, announced by Northumberland County Council, as well visitors being told to remain in vehicles while queuing
  • Fewer types of waste being accepted, a measure which Surrey County Council said was likely when its facilities reopen

Many authorities have also said they will require visitors to provide proof of address before being given access to waste sites, to stop people travelling outside of their area and overwhelming services.

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Tameside Council

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Tameside Council reported 316 fly-tipping incidents since the UK went into lockdown

Some councils have expressed concern over reopening sites.

After the government announcement, North Yorkshire County Council said its tips would remain closed “for public safety and to cut non-essential travel”.

Ian Fielding, waste management assistant director, said: “If guidance on travel is changed then we will reconsider how and when to open sites.”

Derbyshire County Council said it was “unable to say” when its services would reopen due to the need for social distancing measures.

Councillor Simon Spencer said the process was going to take “a few weeks, rather than a few days”.

Councillor David Renard, the environment spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), said authorities wanted to reopen sites as soon as “practicable”.

He said authorities needed clarity on whether waste site trips were essential, police assistance was required “to safely manage visitor flow and pent-up demand”, and PPE was required for staff.

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Mr Jenrick has asked councils to plan the “organised reopening” of tips

Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: “With more people at home, more rubbish and recycling is being created.

“With many councils deciding to close their waste and recycling centres during the pandemic, there is also nowhere to take the extra rubbish.

“That is why we are asking councils to reopen these sites as a priority.”

Reporting team: Robert England and the Local Democracy Reporting Service

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