Recycling centres to employ booking system for vans and trailers

Vans and other commercial vehicles unloading waste at a number of recycling centres in Essex will have to pre-book a slot to help reduce congestion, Essex County Council has announced.

The larger sites that accept vans, trailers and pickups will from February be operating a booking system for one-hour slots for drivers to unload.

These are the recycling centres in Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Harlow, Maldon, Pitsea and Saffron Walden.

Councillor Malcolm Buckley, the county council’s cabinet member for waste, said the aim was to speed up the flow of traffic through the recycling centres, thereby reducing the level of queuing that has in places spilled out on the main roads.

He said: “At the present time we take waste from vans at larger sites and we have smaller sites where we only permit cars to take waste.

“From February if you have a van and want to go to one of those sites you’ll just book a slot online.

“The reason is that in general vans tend to carry more waste than a car so then take a lot longer to unload.

“What has happened is we have had ended up with queuing and congestion that has disrupted traffic flow elsewhere.

“From a wider point of view if we have queuing traffic we have more emissions and the less we have vehicles queuing the better.”

He said one of the issues that still needs resolving is how or whether vans would be able to overtake queues to enter the centre for their allotted one-hour slot.

He added: “That is one of the wrinkles that we have to establish. We don’t think that is likely to be a problem because the throughflow of cars is quite quick and the slot the van has will be an hour.

“By having a booking system we can avoid all the vans turning up at once.”

He added: “The whole purpose of a trial is we can change it or even withdrawn it if it doesn’t work as we wish.”

The council has been employing COVID measures since the start of the pandemic and further measures are not expected.

Cllr Buckley said: “This helps staff manage the sites and in particular that has been the case with social distancing which has reduced the capacity of some of the sites.

“And looking at the way this Omicron variant is going I don’t know if there will have to be changes in the future. I suspect not, because what we did at the beginning of the pandemic was rearrange the recycling centres so there were larger spaces between vehicles so staff don’t have to get into close contact.

“Bearing in mind they are open air and we have restricted the number of vehicles in each site I don’t think we will need to introduce additional precautions but I would emphasise what the government says and wear a mask.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter