A startling clampdown on recycling household waste has been announced by Carmarthenshire County Council.
The council is setting up a bureaucratic system to check identities of drivers and vehicles entering recycling sites, and to limit a wide range of vehicles to 12 visits a year.
The whole scheme seems an over-reaction to prevent businesses from taking commercial items to the county’s four recycling centres, at Nantycaws, Carmarthen; Wernddu, near Ammanford; Trostre, Llanelli; and Whitland.
The new identity check rules start on April 1st – I did for a moment wonder if this was an elaborate April Fool – and require every driver entering a council waste/recycling site to show their driving licence, council tax bill or recent utility bill, to prove they live in Carmarthenshire.
Permits will be introduced from June 1st. Cars, SUVs and people carriers, with or without a single-axle trailer, will not need a permit. Nor will compact pick-ups with rear side windows and a second row of seats, or car-type vans also with rear side windows and a second row of seats.
But vans of any size without rear side windows, and single-cab pick-ups, will have to carry a permit. The permits will be registered to vehicles rather than to drivers, and will allow up to 12 visits in one year.
Vans or pick-ups drawing trailers, and any vehicle towing a trailer with more than one axle, will be completely banned from recycling centres. Unless, it appears, the vehicle has been adapted for use by a disabled person.
Drivers will not be able to exceed 12 annual visits by travelling to another waste site in the county, because the permits will have 12 tabs, one of which will be removed at every visit. No one will be able to apply for a new permit until 12 months have elapsed since the last one was issued. If you lose your permit, that’s it, you will not be able to obtain another until the lost one has expired after a year.
The permits themselves will not be issued unless applicants provide their personal information and vehicle details including a copy or scan of the VSC vehicle log book and proof of their address. That address must be the same as the one on the log book.
More fly-tipping likely
This severe, over-zealous new set of rules will, I argue, lead to more and more serious episodes of fly-tipping in quiet country locations where there are no cameras. That’s a real shame in a county with a large tourism industry, not to mention diverse flora and fauna which could be damaged.
People living outside Carmarthenshire will be excluded from the country’s recycling centres, even if their own council’s centres are further away. This needlessly increases vehicle miles and thus fossil fuel emissions, unless the vehicle is electric. Even so, we all need to travel less, not more. Why not have an all-Wales policy for residents and visitors to access their nearest recycling centre?
Suppose you don’t own a vehicle but still have items to take to a household waste/recycling centre? You can hire a car, but the hire period must be for no more than three days, and the vehicle must have the hire company’s name written on it. You could ask a neighbour to take items for you, but if their vehicle is one requiring a permit, that good deed would use up one of the 12 visits allowed annually. You have a relative in another county who offers to transport your recycling load? Would they be allowed entry?
I put this latter query to the council’s press office, only to be told that they could not answer it because in their view West Wales News Review is not a ‘regulated media outlet’, and they respond only to ‘regulated media outlets’. By ‘regulated’ they mean belonging to a voluntary body such as Impress or IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
The full list of questions put to the county council was as follows:
- How much will the scheme cost to introduce?
- How much will the scheme cost to run in its first year?
- Is there an impact assessment for the scheme (particularly on whether fly tipping is expected to increase and if so, by how much)?
- If a friend or relative of a Carmarthenshire resident offers to take items to a recycling centre in the county but himself or herself lives outside the county, would that be allowed?
- Households where the only vehicle is a van, even a small van, will require a permit and be limited to 12 visits a year, and barred if pulling a single-axle trailer, but other households with vehicles offering as much or more space for items to recycle or dispose of, such as a 4×4 with rear seats folded and drawing a trailer — will be allowed to visit as often as they wish. Could this be open to legal challenge?
- Why has a 3-day hire limit been imposed for hired vehicles?
The press office declined to answer any of these questions, but did say they would pass the queries on to the council’s customer contact centre, which has not yet replied.
Is it surprising that I got the impression the county council is not too keen to talk about these changes, which make recycling more difficult? Surely we need to make recycling simpler, so that we protect our environment and reuse as many resources as possible? Carmarthenshire’s decision to impose a restrictive and certainly not cost-free bureaucracy on the county’s households is, I fear, a backwards step.