A CONTROVERSIAL system requiring residents to pre-book slots at recycling centres across the county is set to be made permanent.

Essex County Council has been operating the pilot since March 2023.

Now, the cabinet is set to agree the system at its 21 recycling centres should stay.

During the pilot period, the council has received more than 18,000 consultation responses.

On average, 58 per cent of car users agreed it should be kept while 72 per cent of van users agreed it should be retained.

The council said the impact of a booking process on the level of flytipping has been a key area of concern for some residents, which was echoed by readers across the county.

Hannah Pearson said: “Since they brought the scheme in there’s been more flytipping.

“The old system was much better.”

Jill Rush agreed, saying: “I have definitely seen an increase in flytipping since its introduction.”

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Plan - Essex County Council proposing to make the recycling centre booking system permanentPlan - Essex County Council proposing to make the recycling centre booking system permanent (Image: Essex County Council)

However, no direct link has been identified between the introduction of the booking process and the level of reported flytipping in Essex.

It adds overall waste tonnage trends have been largely unaffected by the introduction of a booking process.

Despite some anger at the system, some readers have said they have liked it since its implementation.

Vaughan Rowland said: “I was sceptical when the system started, but it has worked well.”

Helen Lilley added: “We have found it much easier, no queues and easy to get a slot.”

David Bissett said he has used the new system “several times” and that it “generally works well and is easy to book”, meanwhile Royston Diggle dubbed it “one of the best ideas to come from Essex County Council”.

The council says the system has helped manage demand across the recycling centre network to reduce the queues and congestion that were being experienced at peak times.

A statement as part of Essex County Council cabinet papers to be agreed upon when it meets on February 27 adds: “The evaluation of all three phases of the pilot has shown that the booking process is a cost-effective way to make optimum use of available capacity across the recycling network to support the needs of the current and growing population of Essex."