Recycling centre booking system to end – but council yet to say when it’ll happen
Fife Council will axe its booking system for all but one of its recycling centres in the near future, bosses say - but they are yet to pin down an exact date.
The authority's environment boss Ken Gourlay says the system has fulfilled its purpose in preventing mass queues and the spread of Covid-19 during the worst of the pandemic.
Fife also claims the system has prevented £1m of commercial rubbish from being illegally binned as household waste.
As the system is withdrawn, the council is preparing to spend £40,500 on powered barriers that will close when the queue at each centre is approaching capacity.
However, the online system will remain in place for larger vehicles such as pickups, vans and cars pulling trailers.
This is to minimise the risk of commercial vehicles surreptitiously passing off work waste as household rubbish.
It will also continue at Lower Melville Wood in Ladybank for the time being until a new entrance can be built for the general public.
Officers feel that the single public and commercial entrance is not safe thanks to a rise in HGV traffic in recent years.
Costings are being drawn up for a new inlet for residential waste-tippers.
Mr Gourlay said: "We would like to remove the system from Ladybank in the future but works are required to make that happen.
"What we've agreed to do is bring reports back to see how we operate post-removal of the booking system.
While some elected members have welcomed the removal of the booking system, there are fears that unregulated access to Fife's tips will lead to chaos as the public rushes back to dispose of waste.
SNP Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor David Barratt fears queuing at the local tip could spill out onto the public road while stablemate Alice McGarry fears the early rush could lead to issues that might require police intervention.
However, Mr Gourlay says staff are prepared for teething problems.
He added: "We've had discussions with the police but in reality the expectation is that we will manage the traffic.
“ But if there's an obstruction on the highway they will be called in.
"I can agree that if we will get a rush it'll be in the first few weeks. It's fair to say Fife Resource Solutions is suffering a bit at the moment with absences so there is a fairly reasonable chance we'll get problems at the sites at first, then it will settle down."
Councillors also want firm timescales on when the booking system will go - and when the barriers will arrive.
However, this must be agreed by the board of Fife Resource Solutions, the arms-length council body charged with operating the authority's landfills and recycling centres. It was due to meet today [Friday].
Conservative group leader Dave Dempsey said: "The idea is to install powered barriers to regulate access and, indirectly, deter those trying to avoid charges on commercial waste.
"Nothing wrong with that but all we have on timescales is ‘weeks rather than months’."
Cllr Ross Vettraino, Labour environment committee convener, said: "I assure you it will happen as soon as possible, as far as I'm concerned."
Other changes are also being considered to make some of Fife's tips easier to access for those who do not or cannot drive.
The council has agreed to examine how it could safely allow pedestrians and cyclists to make their way to the centres at Cupar, Dalgety Bay, Kirkcaldy, Lochgelly, Methil and St Andrews, which are judged to be the most accessible on foot. Officers will report back to the committee in the near future on how this might be achieved.
For now, the booking system remains in place - but for some clarity, it is set to be updated with either an explanation or a link to the DVLA website to help people understand why some types of vehicle will continue to require booking in future.
Like the withdrawal of the booking system, no fixed date has been set for that change.