Lancashire's household waste recycling centres to introduce new rules for some users

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Limits are to be placed on how much building and DIY waste can be dumped at Lancashire’s household recycling centres by residents using vans or trailers.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has agreed to new rules for “inert” material – such as rubble, concrete, soil and plasterboard – after a surge in the amount being taken to its facilities since a previous restriction was relaxed.

Back in 2015, the authority placed a cap on how much of that type of waste could be deposited at the 16 household waste sites it operates across the county.

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However, enforcement of the policy relied upon a paper-based permit system, which was suspended at the start of the pandemic in order to reduce the level of interaction required between staff and residents.

Van and trailer drivers will be subject to a limit on how much "inert waste" they can deposit each monthVan and trailer drivers will be subject to a limit on how much "inert waste" they can deposit each month
Van and trailer drivers will be subject to a limit on how much "inert waste" they can deposit each month

Even after Covid restrictions eased, the inert waste limit was never reintroduced. But in the almost four years since, the volume of such material being taken to the facilities has almost doubled – equating to an additional 9,700 tonnes of inert rubbish per year.

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Now, County Hall has decided to restrict inert waste arriving by van or trailer to three 25kg bags or items – or equivalent – per visit. The limit will not apply to residents using cars.

Van and trailer drivers will continue to be subject to a separate “access policy” which restricts their usage of the waste centres – for depositing any material – to once a month. However, the inert waste limit itself is more than three times as generous as one that was in place between 2015 and 2020.

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Meanwhile, a ban on people visiting the recycling centres on foot, which was introduced in 2021, will be made permanent for safety reasons.

Cabinet member for environment and climate change Shaun Turner stressed that most trips to household waste centres are made by car and so “the majority of residents will be completely unaffected by this policy”.

He also insisted there was no reason to believe the change would result in an increase in the illegal dumping of waste.

“Most fly-tipping is carried out by unscrupulous businesses who do not want to pay for the waste in the first place. We only accept household waste…[and as] fly-tipping carries penalties of an unlimited fine and up to five years in prison, we believe the average householder will not risk such penalties,” County Cllr Turner said.

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There will no longer be an option to pay to deposit more inert household waste than the limit allows.

A new digital platform has also been developed to facilitate the appointment-booking system put in place during the pandemic, which initially covered all vehicles, but which has subsequently been maintained for vans and trailers. It will work using QR codes and is designed to give residents easier access to appointment slots.

On the overall access policy, a version of which was first introduced in 2003, County Cllr Turner added: “[It] plays an important part in managing traffic at our recycling centres, especially…our smaller sites.

“By their nature, many vans and trailers can carry significantly more waste than cars – they often take much longer to unload and can be more difficult to manoeuvre. If unchecked, this can cause congestion or make access to containers more difficult for other visitors.

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“We want to encourage residents to separate their waste into the correct containers, so that as much of it as possible is recycled. The access policy limits the number of vans and trailers on the facility at any time, which, in turn, allows other visitors to use the facilities more freely and safely.”

An update to the access policy in 2021 means that it now covers all types of trailer, not just the twin axle variety, as was initially the case under the 2003 rules.