The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has said that it does not support a Government proposal to prevent councils from charging residents to use household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) consultation on charges ended on 18 February with new regulations planned to come into force on 31 March. Charging is not commonplace but some councils have introduced fees for certain services.
The DCLG is concerned that levies at HWRCs will increase fly-tipping and the illegal burning of waste.
Legislation requires waste disposal authorities to provide free access to HWRCs, but LARAC chief executive Lee Marshall said a difficult funding climate and declining values of recycled material may mean it is necessary to charge for some services: “This is ultimately better than losing those services all together.”
LARAC is concerned that removing the power of charging could lead to reduced levels of provision to residents and could lead to reduced opening hours or sites being closed.
Given the cuts to local government budgets, Marshall says that completely free service provision was “no longer viable”, and the concept of certain services being paid for at the point of use was now accepted within the UK public sector.
He says there is a lack of clarity over whether this is a formal consultation and the timescales for responses were too short for such a “major proposal”.
LARAC has called for roundtable discussions with Government departments, the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers, Local Government Association and the CIWM to develop waste services tailored to the tough economic conditions, which can be understood by all parties.