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SUEZ agrees to reopen Northumberland HWRCs

By 29/04/2020News

Northumberland county council announced today (29 April) that its household waste recovery centres will reopen from 4 May “following an agreement with SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, the company that operates the sites”.

The county said that the sites will initially offer a “restricted service in line with government guidance on reopening HWRCs”.

The sites were closed in response to the government lockdown and movement restrictions in March. Today the authority said that it anticipated “there may be significant demand in the first few days following the reopening. Should very long queues form, residents may be asked to leave and come back at a later date.”

A Northumberland HWRC (pictured before the pandemic)

Agreement to reopen all 12 of recycling centres, said the council, has been secured through detailed discussions with SUEZ about how the sites can be run in line with Public Health England guidelines, to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19 to protect the health and safety of the public and site staff.

SUEZ had recently published its own assessment (see story) of the opening of HWRCs and saying that it would be hard to see a trip to a site as essential.

‘Fantastic job’

Councillor Glen Sanderson Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, praised staff who have led on these discussions, and said: “Our teams have done a fantastic job in continuing to operate full waste collection services throughout this difficult time, as well as keeping our county clean and green despite the circumstances by cutting grass, clearing litter, and undertaking essential road repairs.

“But we know how much the household recovery centres have been missed, and we have pulled out all the stops to get them open.”

Detailed inspections at HWRC sites across Northumberland will continue this week, said the county council, “to make sure that each facility can operate in line with Public Health England guidelines, with social distancing strictly observed by staff and visitors at all times. This will mean limiting the number of people who can visit at any one time. Ideally only one person per vehicle should travel to the site, as only one person will be permitted outside their vehicle once on-site, and people must remain in their vehicle whilst queuing. There will also be new controls on the number and type of vehicles allowed on site.”

Traffic controls

Opening times will vary across sites, and there will be restrictions and traffic management controls in place at each HWRC to protect staff and residents, and social distancing measures will have to be observed at all times by both staff and visitors. Northumberland residents will be required to provide proof of residence, and will be told to only attend the sites for “essential” visits.

Northumberland is telling residents that “As outlined in DEFRA guidance, under the lockdown restrictions a visit to your local HWRC would only be considered essential if the waste materials cannot be stored at home without causing risk of injury or harm to health. The sites will only be able to accept bagged general household waste, garden waste, wood and bulky items of household waste such as old furniture.”

Leader of the Council Cllr Peter Jackson said: “We would ask residents to bear with us as we fine tune the process during the first few days of operation – we want the sites to work as efficiently as they can, whilst at the same time prioritising the health and safety of both our staff and our residents.”

“I am very pleased that we are moving forward now, and I am very grateful to our residents who have shown great patience and resilience throughout these recent unprecedented times.”

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Source: Waste Managment