Many household recycling and waste centres were closed when the country went into lockdown, due to difficulties with social distancing and so councils could concentrate staff and resources on bin collections
Half of all UK rubbish tips are to open next week amid fly-tipping concerns during lockdown, a survey of local authorities suggests.
According to the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (Adept) found more than four in five (84%) responding English councils had plans to open some dumps.
About 11% of local authorities planning to have household waste and recycling centres open this week and a further 37% expected to reopen sites by May 14, the survey conducted last week reveals.
Many household recycling and waste centres were closed when the country went into lockdown, due to difficulties with social distancing and so councils could concentrate staff and resources on bin collections.
But closure of tips and curbs on some collections, along with more waste being generated by people embarking on spring clean clear-outs, DIY projects and gardening, has raised concerns over an increase in fly-tipping.
This week, the Government published updated guidance encouraging local authorities to reopen their centres if social distancing measures can be put in place and staff and visitors can be kept safe.
Householders are being told they should only take rubbish to a household waste and recycling centre if it cannot be stored safely at home and no alternatives for disposing of it, such as bulky waste collections, are available.
David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are keen to open household waste and recycling centres as soon as practicable.
“The decision to reopen sites will be taken by individual councils based on risk assessments in their area.
“This will be a gradual process over the next few weeks and based on whether they have enough staff, social distancing measures are in place to protect workers and members of the public, and waste staff are given personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of infection and provide reassurance.”
Last week, Waste facilities in Manchester opened for the first time in weeks – with huge queues of drivers waiting to dump rubbish.
It follows a surge in flytipping since Brits were told they must stay at home.
Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has said councils should be confident to reopen tips “as soon as possible” – although there have been warnings that protective equipment for waste workers needs to be provided.
At the waste centre on Reliance Street in Manchester a queue of cars was already waiting by 7.30am, half an hour before it was scheduled to open.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “While we are reopening centres, this is not a return to normal.
“We would ask the public to limit their journeys and only travel to a household waste and recycling centre if it is absolutely essential to do so.”
Centres are only accepting bagged general waste and Greater Manchester residents need to show proof of address to use the sites, which are limiting the number of cars allowed in.
Mr Jenrick said reopening tips in a staged manner was “sensible” and the “right thing to do”.
He said: “The longer we delay it, the longer those queues are going to be when the waste sites reopen.”
He said visiting a tip is a “perfectly legal” thing for people to do, but warned people “obviously don’t abuse it”.