Queues build up as some tips reopen for first time since lockdown


Queues have built up outside tips in Manchester as they reopened for the first time since lockdown.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority reopened some of its household waste recycling centres on Saturday, with restrictions and social distancing measures in place.

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 and proper social distancing should be in place.

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.

On Saturday only vehicles with number plates ending in even numbers were allowed in, as part of a system to control the number of visitors, meaning some people were turned away.

Waste dumping
Waste dumping

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".

Waste site
Waste site

He added: "There is no reason why you cannot travel to a tip to put household waste there or do recycling. Councils should have the confidence to reopen them as soon as possible."

Councillor David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA) said police would be needed to manage "inevitable" traffic queues at tips.

He said: "HWRCs (household waste recycling centres) can only reopen when they have sufficient staffing and social distancing measures are in place to protect staff and members of the public, which remains paramount.

"To safely manage visitor flow and pent-up demand, the police will need to manage inevitable traffic queues at the sites, with consideration needing to be given to whether supportive measures, such as a permit system and longer opening hours might be needed."

He said it is crucial that staff are given PPE and said re-openings will be decided locally based on risk assessments taken in each local authority area.

New research this week showed fly-tipping had increased by 300% in rural communities during the lockdown.

Waste site
Waste site

Researchers from the universities of Southampton and Portsmouth said the increase in illegal waste dumping followed the closure of almost all tips, while at the same time the number of DIY projects has increased by householders stuck at home.

Two people were arrested in Lincolnshire on Thursday after a raid on an illegal waste site that the Environment Agency said was the size of a football pitch.

Plastics, commercial waste and household furniture were being burned in piles as big as bungalows at the site in Fen Lane, Long Bennington, the agency said.

In London an intensive care nurse told PA she had to clean up rubbish dumped outside her Ealing home, after working a 13-hour shift.

Margaret, who did not want her surname included, said: "People just drive around and dump in my front garden."

She said the problem had become worse since the lockdown.

She added: "We have rats the size of small dogs and they come into the building. There are children in the building and this poses a health hazard."