Shortage of lorry drivers impacting on waste collection in Hertfordshire

Councillors were told at a meeting of the county council’s environment cabinet panel

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 9:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 9:04 am

A national shortage of lorry drivers is having a direct impact on waste collection in Hertfordshire, councillors have been told.

Several companies, including hauliers and supermarkets, have already publicly complained that they don’t have enough lorry drivers – leading to shortages of some products.

And national estimates have pointed to a shortfall of more than 100,000 HGV drivers in the UK.

Councillors were told at a meeting of the county council’s environment cabinet panel

Now county councillors in Hertfordshire have been warned that the shortage of drivers is having an impact on waste disposal in the county too.

Speaking at a meeting of the county council’s environment cabinet panel, the council’s head of waste management Matt King said waste operators were reporting vacancy rates of 15 per cent.

And that, he said – coupled with higher waste volumes – represented “a challenging period ahead”.

Mr King said the county council had already supported lobbying of government, in a bid to introduce measures such as increasing driver testing capacity.

And he outlined some of the actions that were already being taken locally – which include providing a ‘package’ for existing staff in a bid to retain them.

Nationwide he pointed to increasing examples of services being suspended or recycling centres closed.

And he said the challenge was ‘magnified’ in Hertfordshire, ‘by the comparative lack of options in its own infrastructure’.

Hertfordshire does not have an ‘energy recover facility’ within its boundary and it is ‘reliant on a small number of depots and under-pressure transfer stations’.

“Communication with all county councils in recent weeks has highlighted the fragility of our arrangements and the reality that we may be faced with the challenge for some considerable time,” he said.

Mr King said that last month the council had been ‘close’ to having to ‘close the transfer station doors’ – refusing entry to district and borough council collection vehicles.

That would, he said, have meant longer journeys for collection vehicles – with ‘an inevitable impact’ on missed collections and a build-up of waste for residents.

However Mr King reported to councillors that currently the county was now in “a more comfortable position”.

And he said, that other than delays at some facilities collections had continued across the county.

The issue was reported to a meeting of the county council’s environment cabinet panel, which can be viewed at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/watchmeetings.