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Whitehall issues assurances over DIY waste charge legality

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An assurance from Whitehall over the legality of recently introduced charges for DIY materials at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) has been reported by a waste partnership.

Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham borough councils, which constitutes the Re3 partnership, began charging residents to dispose of soil, rubble, plasterboard, asbestos and gas bottles at its FCC Environment-run HWRCs in September 2016.

Other waste authorities, including Hampshire, Leicestershire and North Yorkshire county councils, introduced similar charges at the time.

In response to a query submitted in October by LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) pledged to “take action” against councils that introduced such charges, although there has been no evidence of this as yet.

A DCLG spokesman 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, Hampshire CC postponed further changes to its HWRC provision, calling for clarity from the government. It did not withdraw the charges it introduced on 1 October.

Re3 has now said that the DCLG confirmed in correspondence that “local authorities can of course charge for disposal of non-household waste such as car tyres and construction and demolition waste”.

In a statement it said: “Waste such as rubble is deemed to be ‘non-household’, regardless of whether it is from the property or home of a resident.

“Another way of looking at it is to consider that non-household waste is the type of waste that would normally form the fabric of a property, and thus would not be taken with the owner when moving house.

“Re3 chargeable items – soil and rubble, asbestos, plasterboard – fall under this category.”

It added: “The charging system applies to a small range of materials only, is non-profit-making, has been calculated to cover the cost of disposal and is part of an efficiency and savings programme introduced to protect council tax payers from unnecessary waste management costs.”

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