Oxfordshire County Council has called for new powers from Whitehall allowing it to charge for access to household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
The council has backed plans put forward by councillor Kevin Bulmer to call for changes to the Civic Amenities Act of 1967 and the Environment Protection Act of 1990 which require to be made available at no cost for householders.
The call comes as the council is considering plans to close up to four HWRCs to save £350,000 from the £4.1m annual running costs.
Bulmer said: “This council is facing extreme pressure to reduce expenditure. An alternative to these closures would be to charge residents for their use. However, long-standing legislation has required local authorities to provide free-to-use centres for their residents to dispose of household rubbish and recycling.”
Ministers of all Governments have previously resisted requests to change the legislation due to concern over public opinion on paying for recycling. There are also fears that this could lead to increased fly-tipping.
Bulmer added: “When the alternative to ‘free access’ becomes ‘no access’, this argument loses some of its impetus. In spite of the noted success of kerbside recycling in Oxfordshire, there are still a million-plus trips made to HWRCs in this county annually. Clearly, a nominal charge of £1 a time would generate far more revenue than the £350,000 savings target.”
The leader of the council is writing to Communities and Local Government secretary Greg Clark urging a re-evaluation of the Government’s stance, enabling local authorities to charge residents to use HWRCs.