The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has pledged to take action against councils that charge residents for disposal of DIY waste at their HWRCs.
200 MRW exclusive
Many local authorities have introduced such charges, describing DIY materials as ’non-household’ waste.
They have continued to allow residents to dispose of what they consider such waste for free at their HWRCs, which they are required to under Government legislation. But the DCLG insists the term extends to DIY waste, which should be disposed of without a charge.
A department spokesperson said: “We are determined to boost recycling and that’s why we have brought in legislation to stop councils charging residents for household waste.
“Guidance is clear that should include any household waste from DIY.”
The department said councils can charge for disposal of construction and demolition waste at HWRCs. However, DIY waste generated by householders should be disposed of without a charge.
“We expect local authorities to offer clarity about free-to-dispose household waste and about what charges apply. We will take action against any council that is found to be charging for household waste.”
It repeated a previous line that local authorities “should be able to manage their budgets to provide the services local people want” because they have “nearly £200bn to spend during the course of this Parliament”.
The DCLG and Defra wrote jointly to Norfolk and Northamptonshire county councils in March 2014 about their proposals to introduce charges at HWRCs.
Then-ministers Brandon Lewis and Dan Rogerson cited the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in their letters, which states that local authorities have a duty to provide sites for the free deposit of household waste.
Last year, the DCLG ran a consultation asking for suggestions as to how HWRCs at risk of closure could stay open without the councils concerned resorting to charging.
It concluded that councils should continue to find efficiency savings rather than trying to introduce “back door” HWRC charges, saying those authorities already charging should stop by 2020.
The local authorities who are now introducing charges for DIY waste disposal include Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey county councils.
In their meeting papers, all the authorities say their hand has been forced by continued funding cuts from central Government.
The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee has backed the charges, classifying DIY materials as construction rather than household waste.
Chair Andrew Bird told MRW: “Demolition and construction materials do not fall in the remit of household waste so, while authorities can provide those services, statutorily they do not have to.
“Financially things are very difficult [for local authorities] and you have to find ways of maintaining your core services.
“Anything else has to be looked at differently and that is one of them. It is understandable why charges are being brought into those areas.”