The Banff and Buchan MP has expressed concerns about a decline in footfall at the recycling centres, believing this could be leading to an increase in fly-tipping in the area.
But Roz Baxter, the council’s waste manager, said while footfall dropped 56 per cent when comparing the 10 months before and after April 2020, the tonnage of waste and recycling coming through the sites only reduced by 12 per cent over the same period.
She said that this indicated customers were making fewer visits but with more material in each visit, which had an added environmental benefit.
Mr Duiguid had asked the local authority when it planned to remove booking slots at recycling centre, following similar moves by some councils.
He said footfall at facilities such as Fraserburgh dropped by almost 50 per cent in March compared to the previous year, while in Peterhead, usage declined by more than 3,000 visits.
Mr Duguid, who has voiced concerns about an increase in fly-tipping, praised the council’s recent move to lift restrictions on how many trips can be made to facilities across the North-east, but he now wants the council to take steps to remove both the booking system and entry barriers.
He said: “The system introduced by Aberdeenshire Council last year has been essential in protecting staff and users during strict Covid restrictions.
“However, the figures show that footfall at recycling centres continues to remain lower than normal and I’m concerned this is resulting in more fly-tipping incidents across the north-east.
“Residents have voiced concerns with me about still having to book slots which is why I have asked the council when it plans to change this.
“It’s vital we get as many people as possible back using our fantastic recycling centres which will reduce the number of inexcusable fly-tipping incidents that we are seeing.
“We must all play our part in supporting the environment and I would encourage everyone to use their recycling centres.”
While the booking system was originally introduced as a way of providing physical distancing at the start of the pandemic, Ms Baxter, in her reply to Mr Duguid, said it had provided numerous additional benefits.
These included improved traffic management and spreading out the usage across the day and during the week so there were controlled numbers of vehicles onsite. In addition, as email addresses are collected when booking, should there be a need to close a site, customers can be informed so they do not waste a journey.
From contacts with other councils, Ms Baxter said that over 50 per cent still had booking systems in place, and pointed out: “Currently most of our recycling centres are not at full capacity and bookings are generally available for the same day or the day after.”
She continued: “Although we have received some complaints from members of the public about the booking system, we have also received feedback from customers who like the booking system due to the benefits mentioned above and would like it to stay.
“We have recently started a comprehensive review of the booking system, barriers and limit system at our recycling centres, and this will take into account current data and stakeholders views, with an outcome report expected early next year.”