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Some UK Recycling Centres Reopen With Strict Safety Guidance
While councils have worked hard to continue waste and recycling collections during the coronavirus outbreak, recycling centres have closed across the UK. But amid concerns about household and business waste piling up, plus an increase in incidents of fly-tipping, the government has published guidance on how recycling centres can be safely reopened.
The government is encouraging councils to open recycling centres where social distancing can be safely maintained. Members of the public would then be allowed to travel to recycling centres if the waste that they need to get rid of is a public health or safety risk, or a risk to the environment. The general advice to people is that where possible, they should continue to store their waste safely at home and make use of the available council collections.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association praised the work of refuse crews for keeping vital collections going, but said that many people have been unable to get rid of bulky waste and other items that can’t go in with household collections. This is why the association is helping councils re-open recycling centres in a safe and organised way in the coming weeks.
The situation across the UK
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has just announced that recycling centres will stay closed, saying that maintaining tight restrictions was a price worth paying to save lives.
However, there are calls for the government to open centres in Perth and Kinross after a recent spate of fly-tipping. A local MP said that she has received eight complaints about fly-tipping in just one weekend, and she is set to write to the environment minister to ask for action to be taken.
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said that safety considerations will determine whether or not recycling centres in Scotland can open in the near future and reminded people that now is not the time to be trying to dispose of large bulky items. They added that the government is working with local authorities to discuss what might need to happen before centres can be reopened.
The situation in England is quite different from the one north of the border. Last week, the Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick told councils they could start to plan to open recycling centres again, and some have reopened quite quickly. There were reports of people queuing for hours on the road to visit the centres in question.
There has been an increase in fly-tipping in England since recycling centres closed, so some local authorities have been keen to reopen key sites.
Even though some centres are open, some rules do remain in place, like if someone has symptoms of coronavirus or someone in their household does, they should not go to the centre or leave their home at all.
All ten Household Recycling Centres in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are set to re-open from 11th May, albeit with strict social distancing guidance in place. There will be traffic management guidelines in place, and people are being asked to only visit the centre if they absolutely can’t store their waste at home without risk of injury to health.
Vehicle numbers on sites will be limited, and no more than one person will be allowed to unload a vehicle. Staff will not be able to assist people to unload their vehicles and no vans or trailers that require a permit will be able to use the centres.
There have been calls for recycling centres in Belfast to reopen as rubbish begins to pile up across the city. A local community group carried out a clean up in the north of the city and managed to fill FIFTEEN skips with rubbish.
Recycling centres in other locations in Northern Ireland have been allowed to reopen but centres in Belfast remain closed.
A local councillor based in the Ardoyne area in north Belfast said that fly-tipping had increased across the city and that there had also been an increase in the number of rats. He added that one pest control company had told him they are getting 50-60 calls per day about rats.
A spokesman for Belfast City Council said recycling centres would reopen as soon as it was safe and operationally possible to do so. He added that the council was prioritising waste collections and other essential services like burials and cremations.
Wales has been the first home nation to ease some lockdown restrictions, but recycling centres in North Wales remain closed, despite calls for them to reopen amid an increase in fly-tipping. Local authorities are concerned about the number of journeys that would take place if they reopened centres.
MPs have written to councils amid concerns about an increase in fly-tipping and a large number of people burning waste in garden bonfires.
But local councils remain firm and have reiterated that they are acting in line with guidance from the Welsh government.
The Welsh government has said it is working with local authorities on planning for the reopening of recycling centres