Thurrock Council is urging residents that they should only go to Linford Household Waste and Recycling Centre if they absolutely have to, after residents queued for more than 3 hours today to gain access to the site.
Cllr Aaron Watkins, Cabinet member for environment, said: "We have been asking people to show common sense and only visit the site if they absolutely have to. Today we have seen unprecedented demand for the tip, which has led to queues of 100 or more vehicles throughout the day and as many vehicles this afternoon being turned away as they were beyond the anticipated 3 hour lead up to closing time.
"I would urge anyone thinking of going to the tip to ask themselves if they really need to go. Right now we need to enforce social distancing measures, which mean it is likely to take far longer than usual to get onto the site, due to fewer vehicles being able to access at any one time.
"By holding off on visiting the tip, residents can make sure they stay safe and reduce the risk of danger to themselves and others.
"Traffic measures, which create a one-way system around the site in Linford, have also been introduced to allow cars to queue safely. It's critical that vehicles do not U-turn and drive the wrong way in the one-way sections of road. People should under no circumstances exit their vehicles whilst waiting, putting themselves in danger.
"It is vital people think twice about attending. Please only go to the tip if you absolutely have to – the longer you can put off your visit, the less likely you are to have to queue for hours.
"And under no circumstances should motorists or cyclists ignore the one-way system. They are putting themselves, and everyone else on the roads, at horrendous risk by their foolish and selfish actions.
"What is pleasing to note is that despite the queues, residents have adhered to the social distancing measures and have been in good spirits and appreciative of our staff’s efforts."
Additional traffic signage, including signs informing motorists of expected wait times, are being put up around the one-way system in Linford. Traffic will be monitored and these measures amended or lifted as appropriate.