A TOTAL of 11 recycling centres in Somerset will remain open this week - but only for essential visits.

Somerset Waste Partnership, which oversees the facilities, said they keeping most of the county's 16 sites open, 'thanks to the responsible attitude shown by the county’s public so far', after they re-opened on May 11.

Although queues have at times been substantial, the sites have been able to cope – despite social distancing measures which halve the usual number of unloading bays, a SWP spokesperson said.

From today (May 18), trailers and 3.5 tonne vans will be allowed on sites between 4pm and 6pm on weekdays. To manage congestion, vans and trailers will need permits as usual.

Other rules apply as normal, so no vans over 3.5 tonnes, no double axle trailer or vans towing trailers at any time.

Visit www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/apply-for-a-permit for more details.

All other restrictions remain in place, most importantly that people should only come to sites if their visit is essential.

As set out in government guidance, that is if there is a risk of it causing harm or ill-health if the waste is stored at home.

The recycling centres initially open are in: Bridgwater (Saltlands) Chard, Dulverton, Frome, Highbridge, Priorswood (Taunton), Street, Wellington (Poole), Wells (Dulcote), Williton and Yeovil.

SWP said it remains on course to reopen the remaining five sites - Cheddar, Crewkerne, Castle Cary (Dimmer), Minehead and Somerton - by Tuesday, May 26, following the Bank Holiday Monday.

Sites are operating temporary additional opening hours of:

• Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 9am to 6pm

• Thursday: All closed

• Saturday and Sunday: 9am to 4pm

An odd and even vehicle number plate system is being used to control numbers:

• Odd numbers on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (for example 01, 03, 15, 19 etc)

• Even numbers on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday (for example 02, 04, 10, 12, 18 etc)

A maximum of two people per household will be permitted and gloves must be worn while outside your vehicle and strict social distancing must be adhered to.

Temporary restrictions also apply to materials being accepted, again to ensure social distancing. To start with, only the following will be accepted:

• Rubbish – material you would usually put in your black rubbish bin, excess black bags not taken by kerbside collections, and bulky items like furniture

• Green waste – garden waste such as grass cuttings, leaves, hedge trimmings

• Large household electrical items – white goods, cookers TVs etc

• Hazardous household chemicals such as pesticides, weed killers & insecticides

Any items you would usually pay to have disposed of will not be accepted – including tyres, gas bottles, soil and hardcore, vehicle parts, commercial waste, plasterboard and Asbestos.

Access to the normal recycling banks will not be possible, so unless it’s absolutely essential don’t take cardboard, food and drink cans, paper, food waste, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars. These can be recycled using the continuing weekly recycle collections.

If you want to recycle waste wood, metal, plastic pots tubs and trays, scrap metal, TetraPaks and small electricals, people are being told to hold on to them until the sites return to normal.

This is The West Country:

Mickey Green, managing director of the Somerset Waste Partnership, said: “People have followed the guidance and understood why restrictions are necessary.

"We really appreciate that, and it is this that has allowed us to keep the sites open and allow people to make essential visits.

“We are working on plans that will let us ease restrictions on access and materials and will do this as soon as we can.

"In the meantime, please continue to do the right thing and follow the restrictions which are there to keep the sites open and keep everyone safe.”

For more information about how to reduce and reuse your waste, visit www.somersetwaste.gov.uk.