A council has defended the planned closure of almost half its household waste and recycling centres, saying it will not increase fly-tipping.
Cumbria County Council has launched a public consultation on the plans which could see six of the county’s 14 HWRCs shut and cuts to the opening hours of the remaining ones. It also wants to introduce charges for depositing non-household waste such as tyres and construction materials.
The council says it must save £4m a year from its £29m waste and recycling budget and the proposed closures would contribute £2m of that.
The centres identified for closure are Ambleside, Brampton, Grange, Kirkby Stephen, Millom and Wigton. A review found the seven least-used HWRCs account for just 25% of visits and 21% of the total waste collected.
The councils says it has too many HWRCs, more per head of population than neighbouring counties, and they cost too much to run.
The proposals include introducing a new mobile collection service to replace the lost centres and do not affect plans for a new HWRC in west Cumbria. The council said it believes fly-tipping is a “minor problem” which it does not believe will increase following the changes.
But local MP Tim Farron told the Westmorland Gazette the plans were: “worrying”.
He said: “Expecting people to drive from Grange to Kendal to recycle their bottles is terrible for the environment and it’s a massive headache for local people. It is inevitable that the amount of waste going to landfill will increase if the council makes it harder for people to recycle which means much higher landfill taxes for the county to pay – in other words, any savings that the county makes by closing centres will be wiped out by the higher landfill taxes they have to pay.
“This decision isn’t just wrong for our environment, it is completely daft.”
The public consultation lasts until 19 February and the council will decide on the proposals in March.