There is no link between fly-tipping and the opening hours of waste disposal facilities, according to the man responsible for dealing with Lancashire’s rubbish.

Steve Scott, head of waste management at Lancashire County Council, was responding to criticism of a proposal for household waste recycling centres to open later and close earlier – and for nearly half of the county’s sites to shut altogether on two days per week.

Longridge, Barnoldswick, Clitheroe and Haslingden are among the places affected by the two-day closures.

He told a meeting of the authority’s internal scrutiny committee that residents may be inconvenienced, but said there was “no evidence” to suggest the changes would cause an increase in illegal dumping.

“The majority of fly-tipping is commercial waste [and] it is a growing national problem,” Mr. Scott said.   “We recently found coach seats tipped outside one of our sites – that’s not waste that we would accept [anyway].

“In a couple of areas where we have closed recycling centres [in the past], fly-tipping went down.

“Householders who might have to wait an extra day to get rid of their rubbish aren’t going to fly tip,” he added.

The county council is considering closing seven of its fifteen sites on two weekdays, with all of its facilities reducing their opening hours to 9am-5pm.

Currently, the recycling centres are open 11 hours a day during the summer months. The proposed changes will save £734,000 per year.

But several committee members said that any money saved by county hall would have to be spent by district councils clearing up any rubbish thrown into the street as a result.

Committee member David Whipp said he was “utterly aghast” at the plan and added that it would be a boon for the black market in waste disposal.

“I don’t expect the law-abiding residents of Lancashire to turn to fly-tipping, but I anticipate there will be more rogue traders – fly-by-nights, literally, fly-tipping by night,” County Cllr Whip said.

Deputy leader of the opposition Labour group, John Fillis, accepted that the majority of people who use recycling facilities “want to do the right thing”, but warned:  “Some people will have it in their boot and just dump it.”

Staffing levels at some of the sites will be reduced, but the meeting heard that a policy of having the maximum number of staff on duty at the busiest periods would continue.

But some members remained to be convinced.   County Cllr Mohammed Iqbal suggested that the only reason there was no evidence of a link with fly-tipping was because “nobody stops fly-tippers and says, ‘Excuse me, why are you fly-tipping – is it linked to the household waste recycling centres?’”

However, several members welcomed the fact that none of the sites were to close down completely and deputy leader of the Conservative-run authority, Albert Atkinson, dismissed the comments of opposition councillors.

“Those people who fly-tip will do it anyway.   What would you like, for us to open 24 hours a day and have a night watchman?   It’s impractical,” he said.