RESTRICTIONS on vans, pick-ups and car-towed trailers using local recycling sites are being relaxed.
A permit scheme introduced last October allowed such vehicles to use sites at any time on weekdays but only between 1 and 4pm on Saturdays – but those time limits have now ended.
Other simplifications include a clearer way to identify vehicles requiring permits by using their “N1” registration category, and adding all camper vans and minibuses to the permit system due to their van-like size and carrying capacity.
The permit scheme was brought in by the Somerset Waste Partnership because of growing congestion and queues caused by large, heavily laden and hard to manoeuvre vehicles, often with trailers, and after recycling site visits soared, in part because of out-of-county traffic.
A report on the scheme’s first six months said it had achieved its aims of cutting congestion, controlling illegal commercial users, barring out-of-county visitors from holding permits and maintaining safety and improving services.
The vast majority of users – who take their waste to recycling sites in their cars – have not been affected by the scheme, but some 22,000 Somerset residents with vans, pick-ups and car-towed trailers have taken out a free permit.
Recycling staff have seen fewer commercial users trying to sneak in waste they must legally pay to dispose of, while out-of-county visitors cannot get permits.
The amount of waste brought in by illegal and out-of-county users has been cut significantly, but forecasts of a rise in fly-tipping proved wrong, with overall dumping figures for Somerset falling.
Just over 500 permit comments were received, most of which wanted greater weekend access time, which has been agreed by councillors on SWP’s governing board.
“Action was essential and permits have proved very effective by targeting those vehicles and trailers that were creating the greatest congestion,” said a spokesman for the partnership.
“Councillors listened to permit users and have reviewed the permits scheme to make these changes. Its success makes the weekend access changes possible.”
All recycling site users – except those using cars without trailers – are urged to check the details of the changes at www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/sites/van-trailer-permits.