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County demands clarity over DIY waste rules

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

Hampshire, along with partners Southampton and Portsmouth city councils, introduced charges for such waste from 1 October.Trade waste has also been accepted and charged for in Hampshire since that date. The council 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. 

But on 7 October, LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World exclusively revealed that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was insisting non-trade DIY waste had to be disposed of without a charge. LGC also carried the story.

A DCLG spokesperson had 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.”

Hampshire’s environment officers insist there is no formal definition of DIY waste and councils have historically treated it is construction and demolition waste.

On 3 November, Rob Humby (Con), 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’ve tried to reduce costs in a fair a way as possible, by introducing charging for non-household, construction-type waste for residents. This means paying at the point of use for an extra service, as the county council is not obliged to accept this sort of material, and doesn’t pass any additional costs to council tax payers.

“Until we get some clarity from government 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.”

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