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Government tells Herts and Essex county councils to reopen recycling centres 'as a priority'



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The Government is calling on Herts and Essex county councils to reopen their household waste recycling centres (HWRC) as fly-tipping increases.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Tuesday (April 28): "We know that 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 and we will be publishing guidance shortly to support them to do that in line with social distancing guidelines."

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

The Indie understands that a formal announcement on the future of the Bishop's Stortford tip on the Woodside industrial estate, off Dunmow Road, and others is expected soon from Herts County Council, which has written a 26-page strategy for reopening safely during the coronavirus crisis.

The authority is preparing those centres which can accommodate social distancing measures and gearing up for substantial waiting times once selected sites open.

Mr Jenrick's statement has been backed by the Countryside Alliance.

Cllr Graham McAndrew at the household waste recycling centre at Woodside, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince (34146260)
Cllr Graham McAndrew at the household waste recycling centre at Woodside, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince (34146260)

Head of policy Sarah Lee said: "With no near end to the lockdown in sight, local authorities will need to assess the feasibility of reopening recycling and refuse centres as a matter of urgency.

"While it does seem like reopening centres is the most obvious answer to stopping fly-tipping, social distancing guidelines and staff safety will no doubt form a big part in the decision to reopen.

"We also can't risk people filling up a car with rubbish and being turned away, only for it to then be dumped elsewhere, illegally because centres can't cope.

"The reopening of recycling centres by larger local authorities like Wigan will serve as an important case study for other local authorities. If successful, other authorities may be more likely to reopen their centres too. We really hope it's a success as it's becoming clear we cannot go on like this."

Cllr Graham McAndrew at the household waste recycling centre at Woodside, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince (34146285)
Cllr Graham McAndrew at the household waste recycling centre at Woodside, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince (34146285)

Figures from waste dumping reporting app ClearWaste show that fly-tipping is up 76%, with some London boroughs facing a 100% rise in the crime.

Sarah said: "Until an official decision is made by individual local authorities, if people need to hire a private refuse collection service, please ensure they are a registered waste collector first.

"We are fully aware that rogue operators profit from charging cheap fees, who then dump the rubbish in the countryside. They often advertise on social media and offer deals that some find tempting. In reality, this comes at a massive cost to both the environment and taxpayer.

"Please also plan any activity which may produce excess waste in accordance with the relevant collection advice from your local authority. There can never be an excuse for fly-tipping."

Essex County Council said on Wednesday (April 29) it was too soon to put a date on any reopenings, but it was looking at the best way to do so safely.

East Herts and Uttlesford district councils have been asked to comment on any rise in fly-tipping incidents.



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