Scottish councils to coordinate HWRC reopening

Scottish councils are planning to reopen Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) on 1 June, according to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

An image of a HWRC

Scotland’s HWRCs have been closed since the end of March as part of lockdown measures implemented by the Scottish Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Steven Heddle, COSLA’s Environment and Economy Spokesperson, stated by coordinating the reopening of all HWRCs, local authorities hoped to avoid a “disjointed approach” and “confusion” for members of the public.

However, whilst COSLA is working with Scottish government and its partners to plan the reopening of HWRCs and draw up guidance, the move is dependent on the assurance that HWRC reopening “will not negatively impact the Covid-19 infection rate”.

Heddle underlined that the feasibility for sites to maintain physical distancing for staff, members and the public will affect whether and to what extent individual sites will reopen.

Commenting after the meeting of Council Leaders, Heddle said: “Leaders agreed today (Friday) that Local Authorities will plan for the reopening of Household Waste Recycling Centres on 1 June.

“The reopening of sites depends on receiving assurance that this will not negatively impact the Covid-19 infection rate and will be consistent with national travel advice.

“There will also be local considerations including the need to maintain physical distancing for staff and members and public which will determine whether and to what extent individual sites will be able to reopen.

“The intent behind this decision is to provide a level of coordination across Scotland, to avoid a disjointed approach which could lead to confusion, and to ensure access to Household Waste Recycling Sites is managed to best ensure the safety of both staff and the public.  We are working closely with the Scottish Government and partners on this and are drawing up guidance.”

England reopenings

South of the border, 86 per cent of HWRCs in England remained closed as of last week due to Covid-19 lockdown. Despite Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick calling on local councils to “plan the organised opening” of HWRCs and the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) stating that councils were planning to reopen HWRCs in a “controlled and consistent” manner, reopenings have lacked coordination across England.

According to the sixth local authority Covid-19 impacts survey run by ADEPT, 94 per cent of councils have plans to reopen some of their sites, half of responding councils intended to open sites last week and 40 per cent plan to reopen this week.

For those local councils that have opened their HWRCs again to the public, such as those in Hertfordshire, Bournemouth and Southampton, long queues have formed due to traffic control and social distancing measures on site, resulting in local authorities urging members of the public to only visit HWRCs if the journey is really “essential”