West Sussex County Council made the decision to close all Household Recycling Centres in the light of Boris Johnson's statement to restrict all but essential movement in the UK.
The council said the government's advice is clear - residents should stay at home and only make essential journeys to "protect the NHS and save lives". The Council is asking the public to store any recyclable materials that won’t go into their recycling bins, if this is possible, until the Recycling Centres can re-open.
However, with household waste increasing during lockdown, the Liberal Democrat Group has called on the council to reopen recycling centres to prevent fly-tipping, obviously taking account of the social distancing requirements.
This follows the latest advice from the government, which states it is possible to keep the centres open, as long as social distancing rules are maintained.*
Liberal Democrat Group Leader at County Hall, Councillor Dr James Walsh , said:
I am calling on West County Council to reopen our community recycling centres in a limited and safe manner to enable gardeners to dispose of their plant material and also for householders, who may be using the time at home to catch up with domestic jobs, to safely dispose of waste. The county council has been listening to concerns so far, and I hope for a partial reopening of our community tips in the near future.
Several West Sussex District and Borough Councils (including Horsham) have called on the public not to burn garden or other waste in garden bonfires, due to the effect on air quality and the risk of fires spreading out of control.
New government guidance, titled 'Guidance on prioritising waste collection services during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic', was published online on Tuesday (April 7). It reads:
"If it is possible to keep household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) open, make sure that social distancing rules can be maintained. Always provide adequate staffing levels for health and safety and security purposes."
The document highlights that there is a potential for "increased fly-tipping" if other collections fail, and some homeowners may not have the capacity to store waste at home.
It says local authorities must provide places for residents to deposit their household waste at all reasonable times, and should consider whether priority sites can be maintained with restricted access.
"Where practical, a limited and controlled access service may be feasible to reduce risk of fly tipping and to provide essential access for those not able to store waste indefinitely."