This is exactly when most of Lancashire's tips will reopen, what you'll have to do to use them - and which ones are staying shut
Lancashire County Council has announced that most of its household waste recycling centres will be back in operation by the end of the week - but users will no longer to be able to arrive unannounced.
Twelve out of the 16 facilities in the county will begin to accept waste once again from this Friday (15th May), when they will return to their normal opening hours.
However, the tips at Longridge, Garstang, Carnforth and Haslingden will remain closed for now, either because of difficulties posed by their layouts or the fact that alternatives are available nearby.
The move by County Hall does not affect waste centres in the standalone Blackpool and Blackburn council areas.
Residents in county council districts are being warned that they will need to book a timeslot for their visit in order to prevent queues forming at the facilities, which have been closed for seven weeks.
It is one of many changes to how the county’s household waste recycling centres will operate, in an attempt to ensure that they can reopen safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic - by maintaining strict social distancing rules.
A booking system will open by lunchtime on Wednesday (13th May) and will be accessible via the county council’s website or its customer service hotline. Appointments will be available a few days in advance and visitors will be allocated a 30-minute window in which to attend the centres.
Nobody with coronavirus symptoms or who is self-isolating because of a confirmed or suspected case in their household should visit.
County Hall is also appealing to people to book a slot only if it is absolutely necessary, because of expected high demand.
People are being warned that they will be allowed only one visit per calendar week, with only one type of waste permitted per trip. It will not be possible to book multiple visits across different sites.
Once they arrive, residents will be asked to park close to the skip they need – and staff will no longer be able to offer help unloading and dumping the waste.
Only cars will be allowed to visit – with a complete ban on vans and trailers. The permit system allowing limited amounts of inert construction and demolition waste, as well as plaster, plasterboard or asbestos, will not be in operation – and this material will not be accepted in any quantity.
County Cllr Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for waste management, said he was pleased to be reopening the centres, because they offer a valued service.
“However, I would ask people to understand that we cannot provide the service in the usual way due to the need to ensure social distancing, and manage the huge demand that has built up while the sites have been closed,” he explained.
“Operating a booking system will be more convenient in many ways, as it will ensure that people can visit during a specified timeslot without having to queue for hours. However, it’s also absolutely necessary to manage demand and ensure that we don’t cause traffic issues which could place pressures on other vital services such as the police.
“I would ask people to only visit if they really need to and to be patient as this is the first time we have operated in this way - and I am sure that appointments will get booked-up very quickly.
“A condition of visiting is that people observe the [new] restrictions and respect our staff, as we have a duty to protect them and will not tolerate any abuse or aggression towards them,” County Cllr Atkinson added.
The county council had previously said that a trip to the tip did not meet the government definition of an “essential journey” under the lockdown restrictions – and so kept the facilities closed.
But last week, ministers wrote to local authorities advising them that it was lawful to open their waste centres – and encouraging them to do so.
However, county council leader Geoff Driver says that government guidelines are that residents should only be using the facilities to deposit waste "if it can’t be stored safely and reasonably at home".
"We’ve also come under a lot of pressure over increases in fly-tipping, but a lot of that would have happened whether we’d had the centres open or not. Wagonloads of household refuse appearing in country lanes and beauty spots is going to be down to disreputable business people, taking rubbish away for a few quid and just dumping it.
"But they couldn’t have taken it to our centres anyway, because we don’t accept waste from business people - they have got other ways of disposing it," County Cllr Driver said.
Last month, more than half of district council leaders wrote to their County Hall counterpart calling for the tips to be reopened, because of a spike in fly-tipping in areas including Leyland - and an increase in reports of rubbish being burned in back gardens.
WHICH TIPS ARE REOPENING?
The 12 tips which will reopen on Friday are – Altham, Barnoldswick, Burscough, Burnley, Chorley, Clitheroe, Farington, Fleetwood, Lytham, Lancaster, Preston and Skelmersdale.