By Niall Griffiths – Local Democracry Reporter
Van drivers could have to apply for a permit to visit tips across Greater Manchester as part of a further shake-up of recycling rules.
An automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system was introduced in February as part of a crackdown on illegal waste being dumped at sites across the city-region.
Cameras log drivers’ details and keep track of the number of trips to household waste recycling centres (HWRC).
Cars are limited to 52 visits a year – an average of once a week – while van drivers are limited to either 12 or 18 visits a year depending on the size of their vehicle.
Since the introduction of ANPR the number of visits fell from 445,941 in January to 371,038 in February, and further still to 350,324 before the lockdown on March 23.
But vans are still being spotted dumping non-household waste at tips more than 50 times a month.
A report to the Greater Manchester combined authority says: “It is for this reason that the implementation of a van permit policy will provide a greater degree of control over trade waste abuse at the HWRC facilities.”
Permit schemes typically involve residents handing in a paper permit to staff who then pass on the data to the local authority.
Councils using these schemes have all encountered high administrative workloads and problems with paper permits being lost or easily faked.
With the risk of Covid-19 transmission and potential issues with GDPR, Greater Manchester is hoping to establish an online-only permit system.
Under proposals submitted to the combined authority, a van owner would apply for a permit by creating an online account which would be subject to DVLA checks.
If the application is approved the system will generate a QR code, barcode or reference number unique to the driver which they would present to be scanned during each visit.
HWRC staff would record the visit and the ANPR system would deduct the visit from the total number of trips allowed during the year.
Local authorities using an electronic system tend to issue the permits for free, but it remains unclear if Greater Manchester will do the same.
The report says: “This type of system removes the administrative burden, reduces the need for manual handling of permits on sites and provides instant update of the data base for the user to see how many visits remain and to monitor any problem vehicles.”
Greater Manchester’s waste and recycling committee has been asked to approve the development of a project plan for the van permit scheme on July 22.
If approved it will be administered by Suez, which runs all of the city-region’s HWRCs apart from Wigan, which has a separate waste disposal contract.