A council has proceeded with plans to introduce charges for DIY waste at its household recycling centres, after demanding clarity on the proposals’ legality from Whitehall.
Derbyshire County 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 also 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, Derbyshire called for more certainty on the situation, saying: “If the law has changed then the Government needs to be clear about that and tell us.”
Asked by MRW whether the DCLG has been in contact since then, the authority said: ”We have an ongoing dialogue with [the department] through the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers.”
Following the consultation, the council has decided to proceed with its plans. Out of 1,188 respondents, 47% agreed with the proposal, 44% disagreed and 10% neither agreed or disagreed.
The council’s cabinet will vote on the potential charges next week, reaffirming its belief that such a scheme will not be breaking the law.
Cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure Dean Collins said: “While we don’t legally have to provide a service for people to get rid of building and demolition waste, public opinion on this proposal was split. But on balance, officers felt that it was better to charge for the service rather than stop it altogether.”
Contractor HW Martin operates the centres for the council. Any profit will be returned to the council and the contractor has guaranteed to pay Derbyshire at least £70,000 a year for this type of waste, regardless of how much is collected on-site.
The two other proposals included in the consultation were to limit use of the recycling centres to Derbyshire residents only and introduce a permit scheme for vans, trailers and pick-ups to prevent use by businesses.
But the council has decided not to go ahead with with these plans at the moment.