27th May 2020
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Caution urged as Lerwick dump prepares to reopen

Plans are under way to ensure the dump in Lerwick can once again allow refuse through its gates, with steps being taken to re-open the Gremista waste plant from 1st June.

But a councillor who called for the dump to be re-opened has now urged people to think carefully before they actually visit, in order to avoid any unnecessary rush.

It follows long-running concern among elected members that householders were facing a build-up of waste following the closure of the recycling centre in light of the Covid-19 restrictions.

News of the countrywide opening of refuse centres was made on Friday following agreement by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), the umbrella body for councils north of the border.

On Monday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “garden centres and recycling facilities” could be reopened as part of the Scottish government’s planned “route map” out of the virus.

Recycling staff are now working to implement measures which will ensure social distancing is maintained. Plans around site access and traffic management are being developed.

Shetland Central councillor Moraig Lyall. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Shetland Central member Moraig Lyall has attempted to stave off any potential rush by urging anyone with no desperate need to visit the dump to hold off until others have done so.

However, she said she was delighted the dump would be operational again.

“Ours was not the only area where was a lot of pressure being put on the Scottish government,” Mrs Lyall said.

“I’m really glad that it’s going to happen.”

She described re-opening of the dump as “a baby step in terms of getting back to normality” compared with “much bigger issues” like the reopening of schools.

Mrs Lyall said: “But it’s good news that it’s happening again and I hope that they manage to find a system that prevents it from being overwhelmed in the first week or two of operations.

“If you’ve not got really urgent stuff to go you might want to hold back a day or two to help other folk who have got more urgent stuff.”

Physical distancing

SIC environment and transport committee chairman Ryan Thomson said the reopening of the recycling centre had been “one of the most discussed issues with constituents”, particularly those with a lot of garden waste.

He said: “Although the intent by Cosla behind this decision is to provide a level of coordination across Scotland, we must make sure that our staff and members of the public can remain safe, including the need to maintain physical distancing.

“We also must be absolutely certain that the decision to re-open the waste recycling facility would not negatively impact the Covid-19 infection rate, or go against Scottish government guidance.

“The SIC have been working closely with Cosla and monitoring the Scottish government guidelines.

“We will monitor this on a daily basis and make our decisions around the best scientific advice available.”

Cosla environment and economy spokesman and Orkney Islands Council member Steven Heddle said: “There will also be local considerations including the need to maintain physical distancing for staff and members and public which will determine whether and to what extent individual sites will be able to reopen.

“The intent behind this decision is to provide a level of coordination across Scotland, to avoid a disjointed approach which could lead to confusion, and to ensure access to household waste recycling sites is managed to best ensure the safety of both staff and the public.

“We are working closely with the Scottish government and partners on this and are drawing up guidance.”

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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