by Countryside Alliance

The increase in fly-tipping during the COVID-19 outbreak has been a blight in our towns and countryside. The Countryside Alliance has been vocal on this issue, calling for people to hang on to their waste while local authorities work out a safe way to open local tips. The Government has now stepped in and published guidance for local authorities on how they can safely re-open their Household Waste and Recycling Centres. 

Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, Sarah Lee, said: "The Countryside Alliance welcomes this move to encourage local authorities to open their sites where they can safely. This will hopefully avoid the build-up of waste in people's homes reduce the prospect of them fly-tipping it or paying an illegal operator to dispose of it. We would urge people to check first if their local tip is open before loading the car and travelling."

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: "Maintaining crucial waste services while protecting health remains a top priority during these unprecedented times, and I commend our councils on the superbly efficient job they are doing in keeping waste collection services running. We are publishing this guidance to help local authorities re-open their recycling centres over the coming days and weeks. This will ensure that more waste can be properly disposed of and that we avoid the likelihood of fly-tipping."

Defra has said the new guidance recognises the importance of councils making independent assessments of which centres can be re-opened based on how much capacity they have and the practicalities of adhering to social distancing requirements at any one site. 

  • Under the terms of the lockdown, householders can travel to a centre if the waste in their home presents a risk of injury or a risk to public health or the local environment.
  • The guidance sets out how local authorities could manage access and the number of people who are able to be on site at any one time. 
  • If possible, waste should continue to be stored safely and disposed of using regular council collections. 

In April, Defra published waste collection prioritisation guidance for local authorities, with recommendations on how they could prioritise and adapt their collection services and mitigate any impacts being felt by the impact of coronavirus. The government says councils' top priority should be the collection of residual 'black bag' waste to avoid the build-up of waste and protect public health.

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