Coronavirus: Huge queues build as rubbish tips start to reopen

2 May 2020, 14:07

Huge queues have built up outside centres
Huge queues have built up outside centres. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Huge queues have built up outside rubbish tips as many reopened this morning for the first time since lockdown began.

It comes as the government faces increasing pressure to lift Covid-19 restrictions.

In Manchester, household waste recycling centres reopened with social distancing measures in place.

The move comes after research found fly-tipping had quadrupled in some areas of the UK during the lockdown.

Next week, Boris Johnson is due to reveal his measures for easing coronavirus lockdown. It is thought he will announce ways to allow people to start to return to work and children to return to school.

That plan is not expected before Thursday, which is the latest date ministers must review the emergency measures under legislation.

Tips in Northumberland and Yorkshire will be opening from Monday, and other local authorities such as Hertfordshire County Council are already making preparations to do the same.

However, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has made it clear "this is not a return to normal".

Workers are being given protective equipment
Workers are being given protective equipment. Picture: PA
People queued from 7:30 in the morning
People queued from 7:30 in the morning. Picture: PA

Earlier this week, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said councils should reopen tips "as soon as possible".

However, there will be protective equipment for waste workers and social distancing plans put in place.

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.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: "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".

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."

Many people had to be turned away
Many people had to be turned away. Picture: PA
Social distancing measures are in place at the plant
Social distancing measures are in place at the plant. Picture: PA

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 said 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."