A SOMERSET MP is urging the county's waste authorities to reopen recycling centres to prevent the problem of flytipping piling up.

MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Ian Liddell-Grainger is hoping Somerset County Council and the waste partnership will considering reopening the well-used centres, to prevent the county 'disappearing under a mountain of fly-tipped rubbish'.

The centres were shut as one of the first anti-coronavirus emergency measures as the UK works to tackle Covid-19.

But Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says he now is being inundated with phone calls from farmers reporting fly-tipping on verges and in gateways.

And, he says, since less public risk is attached to going to a recycling entre than going into a supermarket it is time to relax the controls and re-open the centres again.

“Obviously we cannot immediately go back to the way things were with virtually uncontrolled access to the sites,” he said.

“But it would be a simple matter for staff to strictly limit the number of vehicles allowed in at any one time and normal common sense would ensure people observed social distancing while they were using them.

“The risks to people using an open-air facility such as a recycling centre would be minimal compared with mingling with shoppers in a supermarket.

“Fly-tipping is an appalling problem. Apart from being unsightly it can cause real harm to the environment and attract rat infestations.

“More than that, the burden of clearing most fly-tipped rubbish falls on district councils which are facing enough financial burdens as it is without having more costs heaped on them.”

But those hoping to clear their homes of recycling or spring-cleaned waste will have to wait a bit longer, as a journey to the tip just isn't classed as 'essential'.

A spokesperson for Somerset Waste Partnership said: “We completely understand why people want to get back to using the recycling centres. We’re as keen as anyone to see them reopen as soon as possible and our depleted crews are collecting huge amounts of extra waste and recycling every week.

“The centres are closed in Somerset, as they are across almost all of the country, in line with the national guidance against non-essential travel, which is there to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We and our partners - including Viridor which operates the centres on our behalf - are monitoring the situation closely and will make sure they are reopened as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“Fly tipping is a crime and anyone who sees evidence of it should report it to their district council which will have the power to prosecute.

"The picture is mixed, but across Somerset so far the data doesn’t suggest a significant increase in fly tipping since the recycling centres closed.

"But we take this issue very seriously and will be monitoring figures closely with the district councils."

The lack of green waste collections is also a cause of concern for residents, but SWP says the restriction is needed in order to prioritise recycling and rubbish collections.

The spokesperson added: “Staff and vehicles which usually collect garden waste have been switched to the core collections of recycling and rubbish.

"As soon as we are able to we will restart garden waste collections and extend people’s subscriptions so that they don’t lose out financially."

You can find advice on fighting fly-tipping at somersetwaste.gov.uk/fly-tipping/ and information on what to do with your garden waste can be found here: somersetwaste.gov.uk/home-composting.