A call for clarity on the prospect of Fife reopening recycling centres has been issued amid fears flytipping incidents have soared across the region.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley has urged the Scottish Government to look at plans to potentially remove or loosen restrictions on the kingdom’s 11 household recycling centres, which have been closed for several weeks.
A social media campaign launched by Fife Council last week suggests the number of illegal tips has risen markedly.
Mr Rowley has had talks with Councillor David Ross, with the Fife Council Labour co-leader suggesting the council could begin to open recycling centres but the Scottish Government has made it clear recycling centres are currently counted as non-essential.
Mr Rowley said: “It is important to be measured in our response when reopening public services back up during the coronavirus pandemic but plans for lifting restrictions on recycling centres need to be looked at.
“There have been news reports of police having to guard illegal flytipping sites, which is clearly not the best use of their time, because of the huge rise in the number of people dumping rubbish.
“SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland have launched a new campaign highlighting the fact that not only is flytipping a crime but it presents a serious hazard to people and the environment.
“Local authority resources are already stretched to breaking point and as such, flytipping could really threaten the availability of services to other areas of the community in need of support.”
Kevin Stewart, minister for local government, housing and planning, said decisions are being taken on evidence received but he would be “more than willing” to look at ideas put forward by councils.
“Obviously, flytipping is an offence and people should not do it; people should behave responsibly during the public health emergency,” he explained.
“One of the things that I have found useful in attempting to move forward with the construction industry is to ask folks in the know – in other words, folks who work in specific areas – to put together guidance on how they could see their particular sphere operating within all the social distancing rules that are in place.
“If Fife Council has done something like that in relation to recycling centres, I would be more than happy for Mr Rowley to send us that material so that we can have a look at it.
“Beyond that, if we were to move to reopen the recycling centres, we would also have to take cognisance of people’s behaviours, and the judgment in that regard is sometimes a bit more difficult to make.”
Mr Stewart added he was aware of flytipping becoming a problem in many areas but stressed: “If we are to reopen any facility, we must make sure that we do so in a safe manner and that, as in everything that we do, we are guided by the medical and scientific advice that we receive.”
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