Calls to reopen waste facilities in Badenoch and Strathspey as fly-tipping surges
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Calls are being made for household waste and recycling facilities in Badenoch and Strathspey to be reopened as soon as possible following a 'massive' increase locally in fly-tipping.
The sites at Granish by Aviemore and in Grantown and Kingussie were closed by Highland Council on March 23 as part of the UK wide lockdown measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The local authority has been operating with a shortfall of around 30 per cent to 40 per cent in waste operations staff because of the virus.
As a result priority was given to the collection of statutory household rubbish and recycling in the region and food waste collections in Inverness.
But the council announced yesterday its garden waste collection service will resume on May 11.
And the UK government has signalled its intention to allow a wider re-start.
Access to the local facilities and rise in fly-tipping was discussed at length at Highland Council's latest local ward online meeting.
Highland Council convener Bill Lobban said: “One of the things we need to urgently restart – as soon as the manpower is available – is our recycling centres even if that is on restricted hours.
"Announcements have been made that recycling centres across England will be reopening in the next few days and we should be doing the same.
"This will potentially save our beautiful countryside from the scourge of fly-tipping which appears to be massively on the increase.
"People will, of course, have to be sensible regarding social distancing.”
Fellow local Highland councillor Muriel Cockburn said fly-tipping has been a growing problem in the Grantown area.
"I have received notice of five specific sightings of rubbish household refuse in all, household soft furnishing and one of white goods," she said. "I have also been told of boxes of bottles being discarded.
"It is really disappointing that people are fly-tipping during the Covid-19 lockdown. This is not responsible behaviour and is introducing a potential health risk. There is also the risk to wildlife.
"I will continue to support the reopening of recycling centres as soon as it is safe to do so."
There have also been reports of fly-tipping in the Aviemore area and Badaguish.
Local councillor John Bruce has taken the matter up with Carron McDermid, Highland Council's chief officer for communities and places.
"I have pointed out that both Aviemore and Grantown sites are adjacent to their respective towns and taking waste there would be both safe and avoid fly-tipping.
"I hope an early opening of them will stop this unsocial behaviour."
Councillor Pippa Hadley said she understands the pressure on homes: "People have been using the lockdown to sort out their rubbish – although upcycling and reusing are still the best option for the planet.
"I am equally saddened and angered by the selfish few who pass their problem on to the council, landowner or nature to deal with.
"Part of our economy is built on recycling, and reopening these centres will allow this to restart, easing pressures on food and medicine packaging producers for example, as recycled cardboard becomes more readily available.
"But a decision taken to reopen them has to be weighed against the impact on viral spreading when lockdown eases, and the knock on effects of the recycling centres reopening will naturally lead to more interactions at petrol stations and travel further afield."
A Highland Council spokeswoman said they are continuing to respond to reported fly-tipping incidents on council land.
She confirmed all waste sites are all currently closed due to the Government’s decision to restrict all but non-essential movement.
She said: "The council is closely monitoring the situation across the country and as soon as it is permittable, the sites will be re-opened...
"In addition, householders are advised to avoid carrying out large DIY projects or spring cleans unless they have space to store the waste."
UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, speaking in the Commons earlier this week, said: "Our bin men and women have done a fantastic job maintaining the vast majority of collections.
"The Government published advice to councils on how to ensure the safety of refuse collections on April 7 and today I am announcing that I'm asking councils to plan the organised re-opening of household waste collection sites.
"I expect this to happen over the coming weeks and will be publishing amended guidance shortly."
n Anyone wishing to report fly-tipping on Highland Council land should call (01349) 886603 or visit https://www.highland.gov.uk .
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