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Council considering HWRC charges demands clarity

Derbyshire County Council has added its voice to those urging clarity from Whitehall on the legality of charging residents who take DIY waste to household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).

The council consulted its residents in October on potential measures to cut its £37m waste management budget by £4m by April 2019, including charging for materials such as  plasterboard and soil at HWRCs.

Other local authorities, including Hampshire, Leicestershire and North Yorkshire, have already introduced DIY waste charges, all saying they are not legally required to offer the service for free.

But in October, in response to an MRW query, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) pledged to “take action” against councils that introduced such charges.

A DCLG spokesperson had said: “We are determined to boost recycling, and that is why we have brought in legislation to stop councils charging residents for household waste. Guidance is clear that it should include any household waste from DIY.”

Following these comments, Hampshire County Council postponed further changes to its HWRC provision, calling for further clarity from the Government. It has not, however, withdrawn the charges it introduced on 1 October.

Officers insist there is no formal definition of ’DIY waste’, and councils have historically treated it as construction and demolition (C&D) waste.

Derbyshire has now echoed Hampshire’s call for more certainty on the situation, saying it is still considering introducing HWRC charges for DIY waste.

In response to an MRW request, cabinet member for highways, transport and Infrastructure Dean Collins said: “Like many other councils up and down the country, we have always classed bricks, soil and rubble as non-household waste. If the law has changed then the Government needs to be clear about that and tell us.

“Charging for bringing these materials to our centres is one of three potential measures we are looking at introducing to cut costs in the face of Government cuts to our budget, which will be a third lower in 2018 than in 2010.

“We don’t want to make any cuts but we have no choice. We asked local people for their views about our proposals and we are considering all the responses before deciding whether or not to go ahead and introduce the measures.”

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