Council chiefs plan to install number plate recognition cameras at waste recycling sites
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Council chiefs are keen on installing a network of automatic number plate recognition cameras at household waste recycling sites.
The surveillance measure, which would force residents to register their vehicles to use recycling centres in Carmarthenshire, would help the council to identify aggressive individuals and those “undertaking illegal waste activities”, according to a report.
According to the council, it would also allow people, once registered, to turn up without having to book in advance as they do now.
It says idea is that it would free up staff at the four household waste recycling sites – Trostre in Llanelli, Nantycaws near Carmarthen, Wernddu near Ammanford, and Whitland – who currently check registration plates as people drive in.
Cllr Hazel Evans, cabinet member for environment, told members of the environmental and public protection scrutiny committee that two other councils in Wales used the automatic number plate (ANPR) system at their household waste recycling sites.
She said: “It would also allow us to ensure that only Carmarthenshire residents accessed the sites.”
Cllr Evans said the ANPR proposal, which will be decided by cabinet in due course, would need further development and work. The proposal is to launch the system in March 2023 and maintain the current booking system in the meantime.
Household waste recycling sites in Wales closed during the early weeks of the Covid pandemic in 2020.
Carmarthenshire Council opened its four sites at the end of May 2020 with a new booking system to help avoid queues and encourage social distancing.
There were 236,643 bookings between January and December 2021 – 92% online and 8% by phone.
The report before the committee said the booking system’s advantages included the ability to plan ahead and move skips in quiet periods, and identify aggressive individuals and those “undertaking illegal waste activities”.
There have been concerns that the booking system has gone hand in hand with an increase in fly-tipping incidents, but the report said it was difficult to pin down a direct correlation between the two.
A consultation about the booking system last summer prompted more than 3,800 responses, 52% of which backed its continued use. Since then changes have been made allowing residents to book same day slots and unload stuff twice a day.
Cllrs Tina Higgins and John James said they’d received positive feedback about the booking system, but were concerned the ANPR system might lead to bottlenecks at sites in the afternoon, for example, and enable people to use then multiple times a day – possibly at the expense of other residents.
Cllr Evans said: “I agree that it could cause us to be back where we were.”
She said these were the sorts of factors that would be explored.
“There is a lot to look into,” she said.
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