LANCASHIRE County Council is working on a plan to reopen recycling centres ‘as soon as possible after the government gives the go-ahead.’
The vast majority of councils have kept Household Waste Recycling Centres closed in line with legislation passed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic which does not include trips to recycling sites within the essential journeys allowed under the lockdown.
Work is now underway to ensure that people in Lancashire will be able to access the sites again as soon as the government gives the go-ahead councils to reopen them.
The Communities Secretary said on April 28 that councils should plan to reopen recycling centres in the coming weeks, with further guidance to follow. But the council is warning that people will need to call or go online to book a timeslot before visiting, and that there will be restrictions on the types of waste they can bring in order to allow the sites to operate while maintaining social distancing.
The number of sites available will also be limited to begin with as extra staff will be needed to manage each site more closely, monitor queues, and direct visitors.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs, and waste management, said: "We're keenly aware of how much people value our recycling service, and want to be able to visit the sites again to dispose of their excess waste.
"We must keep them closed for now as the terms of the government lockdown make clear that the current priority is to prevent the spread of the virus, and does not consider a trip to a recycling centre to be an essential journey.
"We're grateful for people's patience and understanding, and for keeping hold of any excess waste for now which they can't dispose of using their household waste collections.
"However I also want people to know that we're just as keen as they are to see the sites reopen, and are putting in place arrangements for this to happen as soon as we reasonably can once the government gives the go-ahead.
"I also want to prepare people to expect a much more limited service than they're used to when the centres initially reopen due to the need to operate them in a way which enables social distancing. Managing the way people move around the site means we're also likely to need to put some restrictions on the type of waste people can bring on each visit to begin with.
"As we will need to limit the number of people visiting at any one time, there will need to be a booking system, and we will have to carefully control the way people access the sites, which means we won't have the resources to open them all immediately.
"We're currently ironing out the full details, and I would I ask people to watch this space. However we're aiming to be in a position to provide the service again as soon as we can, which means people may start to see some activity on the sites as we reconfigure the way they work."
Since the lockdown began, staff who usually work at the recycling sites have been redeployed to help maintain district council collections, and the operation of the county council's waste processing facilities.
To find out more, go to https://www.lancashire.gov.uk