Hampshire councils won't reopen tips until government changes its advice
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The authorities closed them due to strict guidelines on when people can leave their homes. Just last week Defra said people could only visit an open site if a ‘build-up of waste in the home may pose a risk of injury or to health’.
Both authorities have been monitoring tonnage of fly-tipping since lockdown started and say they have not recorded more than in the same period last year.
Robert New, an opposition Conservative councillor at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘With people stuck at home during the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic I'm fielding more and more enquiries from residents about build-ups of household and garden waste and DIY materials.
‘Understandably there are people raising concerns about a potential rise in fly-tipping.’
He added: ‘I believe that the staff who man the tips already have good processes for crowd control in place to tackle entry to the tip and to maintain social distancing.
‘They manage large summer demands effectively and can see no reason as to why they couldn't adapt their processes to ensure safe social distancing and safe numbers of people into the tips across the network.’
A Hampshire council spokeswoman said ‘Fly-tipping is a criminal activity and the county council continues to work closely with partners on a robust strategy to tackle this in Hampshire.
‘Regrettably, there are incidents of fly-tipping happening, but the data on fly-tipped waste tonnages for the initial three-week period following the government’s announcement on March 23, regarding non-essential travel, shows that fly tipping is no greater than the same period last year.
‘Therefore, it is likely that it is an increase in ‘reported incidents’ rather than actual tonnages.
‘This is corroborated by districts and boroughs in the county which advise that they are not noticing any general increase in fly tipping, but are receiving an increase in reports of bonfires.’
Veolia has published a plan as to how centres could re-open safely.
Councillor Rob Humby, who heads the service, has called for consistency from the government over messages to open centres while warning people should only carry out essential journeys.
He added: ‘Should there come a point when the government either amends the regulations and visiting an HWRC is added to the list of essential journeys, or travel restrictions are eased, we will work with our neighbouring local authorities to try establish a common approach for the safe re-opening of sites as far as practicably possible.’
Cllr Dave Ashmore, from the city council, said ‘We do empathise with people wanting the “tip” open however the decision to close the HWRC temporarily was made in line with the government's guidance to stay at home and only make essential journeys. Fly-tipping, which is a criminal offence, has reduced during the pandemic in comparison to the same period last year. We will continue to work with our partners HCC and SCC, and our contractor to review the situation and any changes to government guidance, so that we can re-open as soon as it is safe to do so.’
In a blog post last week, Defra said: ‘If a local HWRC is open, then as per the laws and guidance currently in place, members of the public should only take their waste to a HWRC if the journey is “essential”, i.e. because the build-up of waste in the home may pose a risk of injury or to health.’
Martin Montague, from ClearWaste.com based in Swanmore, said rubbish dumpers were using the lockdown to ‘increase their criminal activities’ and his app designed to take reports had seen an increase in use.