Private van owners will be required to have permits to use certain recycling centres from March, Devon County Council have announced.

The council said: "If you own a private van and you want to use our Ivybridge, Totnes, Kingsbridge, Okehampton or Tavistock Recycling Centres you will need a permit from Wednesday March 1st."

The permits are only needed if you own a privately registered panel van or flat-bed van. They are free and can be applied for online.

This system is already in place in East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, Teignbridge and Torridge, and is now being expanded to include the South Hams.

The council explained that this is to reduce commercial waste being dumped at recycling centres: "We’ve introduced it to help stop commercial waste from being deposited at our sites at public expense. It will also help make it easier for you to use the sites by reducing queues and congestion.

"Once you have received the permit you will be entitled to a total of 12 visits over the next 12 months. We will only issue permits to vans registered to individual residents and not to vehicles registered to businesses.

"And if you use cars, pick-ups, bicycles, motorcycles, fully-fitted campervans and minibuses, vans modified for wheelchairs and van-based people carriers you won’t need a permit.

Vans that are hired out by a householder also will not need a permit, but there are terms and conditions that apply to this circumstance.

Cllr Roger Croad, Devon’s County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality, said of the scheme: “This new system has been intrduced to help us tackle the illegal disposal of business waste at our Recycling Centres at taxpayer expense.

“Waste from a business should be disposed of at licensed, commercial facilities nut instead of restricting all panel vans, we’ve designed it in such a way that it allows Devon householders with privately registered panel vans to continue using our recycling centres. This will help us make sure that Devon residents with household waste can access the sites more easily, safely and with less queuing.”

All vehicles, including those not needing a permit, must still comply with the vehicle restrictions policy.

To apply for a permit and view all the information, including the terms and conditions, you can visit the council's van permit scheme webpage.

The Customer Service Centre is available on 0345 155 1010 for further information if you have any issues.