Charging people to dump household DIY waste at tips ‘should be illegal’

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Charging residents in Portsmouth to dump DIY waste at council-owned tips should not be legal, a city councillor has warned.

Lee Hunt, who represents Central Southsea, said forcing people to pay to get rid of rubble and plasterboard had led to an increase in fly-tipping across the city.

Hampshire County Council introduced charges for certain types of waste in October, claiming it was necessary to allow the tips to remain open.

It includes a £2.50 charge for a 30-litre bag of soil and rubble, with other costs to dump plasterboard and cement-bonded asbestos.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘People are utterly fed up with the amount of fly-tipping in our streets and the council seems to be doing nothing at all about it.

‘Few people are moving now because the cost of moving is too expensive. People are redoing their bedrooms and kitchen, so there is lots of DIY waste. Some people take it to the tip, but some people don’t as they do not want to incur the charges. They just leave it on the street.’

The Department for Communities and Local Government said DIY waste generated by householders should be disposed of for free.

It is illegal for councils to charge for ‘household’ waste, but Hampshire County Council has claimed the waste it charges for is not included in that definition.

Cllr Hunt added: ‘DIY waste and household waste are the same thing. If you are in your house it is household waste. The government is right to tell the council not to do it. More and more of this waste is turning up on the streets now.’

A DCLG spokesman said: ‘We’re determined to boost recycling and that’s why we’ve changed the law to stop councils charging residents for household waste when taken to a recycling site.

‘The government has been clear that DIY waste from residents is classified as household waste and so should be disposed of without a charge.’

The county council previously admitted that it could face a legal fight over the charges. It has also been forced to delay plans to extend opening times of waste disposal sites until later this year.

What have residents had to say?

In October critics complained that the new rules on charges were not clear enough, with one woman in Havant complaining that her husband had been forced to pay £2.50 to dispose of two broken lamps - as they were classed as rubble.

On The News Facebook page, many readers called for the charges on waste to be removed.

Pamela Thomas said: ‘All the charges do is create more fly-tipping, then there is no saving for the council as the rubbish from fly-tippers has to be cleared.’

Steve Smith commented: ‘Extra fly-tipping was exactly what I predicted. Rip-off Britain. We pay for bin collection service and now have to pay for this. They sell on most things we throw away. Making money twice!’

Kelly Turner said: ‘If there were no charges at the tips, fewer people would fly-tip meaning the council wouldn’t have to pay to clean up.’

What has the government been doing?

In its 2011 Waste Review, the government made a commitment to making sure households have access to waste recycling sites where they can deposit waste and recycling for free.

Four years later they carried out a consultation on plans from councils to introduce charges for some forms of waste, but made it clear it was illegal for councils to charge for household waste.

What do other councils do?

Charges for some forms of waste, including rubble and plasterboard, have also been introduced by councils in Surrey, Dorset and West Sussex, which charges £4 per bag of waste.

Parish councillors in Storrington and Sullington, in West Sussex, wrote to government ministers urging them to offer financial help to authorities so they do not have to introduce such charges.

In its reply the DCLG said that waste disposal sites should not be charging for household DIY waste ‘in any rate’.

It added: ‘Local authorities can of course charge for disposal of non-household waste such as car tyres, and construction and demolition waste at waste disposal sites. However, household waste generated by DIY should be disposed of without a charge.’

What does Hampshire County Council say about the charges?

Councillor Rob Humby, the council’s lead member for environment and transport, said: ‘First of all, I think it is important to note that the only material which is now charged for at Hampshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centres is specific non household waste – cement-bonded asbestos, soil, rubble and plasterboard. Household waste from residents continues to be accepted free of charge.

‘When we asked residents how they thought we could best make the financial savings we needed to, they told us their priority was to maintain the HWRC network, and that reduced opening hours and small charges were preferable to closures.

‘Non-household waste is expensive for councils to dispose of, and the charges at HWRCs have been set to only cover the cost of handling and disposing of these materials. No local authority has any legal obligation to accept non-household waste material.’

He added there had been a ‘slight but steady’ decrease in fly-tipping across Hampshire in the past three months.