The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is insisting on banning councils from charging residents for routine use of their local household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
Consultation was carried out between 22 January and 18 February because of concerns over a trend by local authorities towards charging for non-statutory services.
The department also asked for suggestions as to how HWRCs at risk of closure could stay open without the councils concerned resorting to charging.
“Rather than trying to introduce ‘back door’ charges, the Government believes councils should be seeking to deliver sensible savings from more joint working, improved procurement, cutting fraud and better property asset management,” DCLG said in response, maintaining that those currently making routine charges should stop by 2020.
In all, 59 representations were made on the proposals, 39 of which were from councils or partnerships. Half agreed with the Government’s position.
Some called the proposal an unnecessary change to legislation, arguing that all waste disposal authority areas would continue to provide suitable free-to-use provision without the need for Government intervention.
The DCLG responded: “The Government is aware of local authorities introducing charges, which is why it has proposed this change to legislation.”
It noted criticism that a four-week consultation could mean only a limited response but the Government did not consider this had occurred.
Ideas and examples of how HWRCs at risk of closure could stay open without charging included:
- a successful pilot scheme with a third sector organisation operating a HWRC
- costs kept down through changes to site opening times and associated reduced staff and operational costs
- developing on-site reuse facilities
- more attractive cost tariffs for local businesses using such centres
- more transparency in the Packaging Recovery Note system, and ensuring that a greater proportion of this revenue is routed directly to councils
- improvements in management and monitoring, for example to prevent fraudulent trade waste disposal
- ‘producer responsibility’ should offer more ongoing support for HWRCs, both in terms of WEEE collection and packaging waste
- Central Government intervention in the form of business rates reduction or lower Environment Agency permit charges