East Lothian deters cross border waste trips

Thursday January 14th 2021


East Lothian Council's Kinwegar Recycling Centre at Wallyford

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Recycling centres in East Lothian will reduce opening hours in a bid to stop people crossing county borders to use them.

The county’s four recycling centres have seen a record number of users turn up since reopening following lockdown in June last year.

However, a report to councillors reveals that even before then the centres – which are open longer than facilities in Edinburgh and Midlothian – were attracting unwanted visits from people who do not live in East Lothian.

Now the county’s centres are to change their hours and open from 8.30am to 5pm from April 1, to bring them in line with neighbouring centres and deter cross-border trips.

The report said that people who lived in Portobello, Joppa and Dalkeith were among the “vast majority” being turned away from the centres for not living within the county lines.

It said: “Residents are only allowed to use recycling centres that are operated by their local authority unless they pay for disposal.

“Due to the centres in East Lothian being open considerably longer in the summer than neighbouring councils, as well as less waiting times, residents from other counties have been found to travel to East Lothian to dispose of household waste.

“East Lothian Council staff ask for proof of address wherever possible; however, this is dependent on staffing numbers and also the volume of traffic on site and workload during each day.”

It added that turning away people who could not provide proof of address had led to “confrontations” with staff.

The centres at Dunbar, Macmerry, North Berwick and Kinwegar at Wallyford open during the summer from 8.30am to 6.30pm, compared to Edinburgh’s three centres which close at 5pm, except on Thursdays, all year around.

Midlothian’s recycling centres, only one of which is currently operational, open from 9.30am to 4.15pm all year around.

The report revealed that more than five per cent of visits to the recycling centres took place between 5pm and 6.30pm during summer hours.

And it revealed that a booking system introduced by Edinburgh and Midlothian Council’s centres following the reopening of facilities in June had added to increased visits to East Lothian.

Since June, the centres in East Lothian have recorded nearly 20 per cent increase in use month by month compared to visits in 2019.

More than 502,000 visits to the four centres were recorded across the whole of 2019.

From June to September last year, 217,388 visits were made – an increase of more than 17 per cent across the four months.

The report revealed that people who had been challenged about travelling to the centres from outwith East Lothian said they tried to gain access due to “longer opening hours, less waiting time and a more relaxed atmosphere”.

The report said: “Due to the exact number of site users from outwith East Lothian being unknown, we cannot accurately state how much their waste costs.

“However, each tonne that is deposited can cost up to £110 to be transported and disposed of.

“By bringing the operating times into line with neighbouring authorities, we will reduce the appeal of travelling to East Lothian for the sole purpose of disposing of waste.”

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