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Hampshire demands clarity over HWRC charges

A county council is delaying changes to the operation of its household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) because of uncertainty about the legality of charging residents for their DIY waste.

Hampshire, along with partner councils in Southampton and Portsmouth, introduced charges for such waste on 1 October. It also planned to cut opening hours at its 24 HWRCs by two hours a day and to shut every site on Thursdays from the new year to save money. Trade waste has also been accepted and charged for in Hampshire since that date.

But on 7 October, MRW exclusively reported that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was insisting that non-trade DIY waste had to be disposed of without a charge.

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.”

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

On 3 November, Rob Humby, Hampshire’s executive member for the environment, will be asked to back a new strategy, delaying the changes to the operational hours until October 2017. Officers want more time to understand the potential implications of the DCLG statement and to evaluate how the new charging regime beds in.

Humby said: “The Government compels us to reduce running costs but, at the same time, seems to want to micro-manage particular details of how we provide the service. In view of this uncertainty, I am considering delaying introducing any further changes.

“We have tried to reduce costs in as fair a way as possible by introducing charging for non-household, construction-type waste from residents. This means paying at the point of use for an extra service because the county council is not obliged to accept this sort of material, and does not pass any additional costs to council tax payers.

“Until we get some clarity from ministers, we find ourselves in the perplexing position of potentially having to look again at our plans. In the meantime, it seems sensible to hold off bringing in any further changes.”

  • On 3 November, Humby agreed the recommendation to delay the changes to the opening hours until October 2017

The following charges now apply:

  • Soil and rubble: £2.50 per part or whole 30-litre bag, and £2.50 per individual item (for example, sanitary units such as wash basins and toilets)
  • Plasterboard: £6 per bag or £10 per sheet
  • Cement-bonded asbestos: £12 per sheet

Soil and rubble includes C&D materials such as stone, rubble, clay, concrete, bricks, blocks, sand, tiles, paving slabs and ceramic bathroom suites. There will be no charge for crockery or clay/terracotta flower pots. A limit of six bags of soil and rubble per household per month will be lifted.

Cement-bonded asbestos will continue to be accepted at five HWRCs. Other types of asbestos are not accepted.

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