A £4 charge to throw away a bag of non-household waste such as soil, hardcore, DIY or plasterboard was introduced by the Conservative-controlled West Sussex County Council at its Household Waste and Recycling Sites in October as part of cost-cutting measures.
Storrington and Sullington Parish Council 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 Department for Communities and Local Government stated that ‘waste disposal sites should not be charging for household DIY waste in any rate’.
The letter 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.”
But a spokesman for the county council suggested that the Government statement in its view contradicted legislation, and it would not be reviewing the charges.
Philip Circus, a Conservative county councillor for Storrington, said: “What they are actually saying is that the charging regime at West Sussex County Council dumps is illegal and that’s the Government saying that.”
He added: “I’m sure the county council will be quite annoyed about this but my view is I do not speak for the county council I speak for the people who elected me and they are horrified by the charges and some are quite illogical.”
Mr Circus has argued the charges have led to an increase in fly tipping, would undermine recycling efforts, and are inconveniencing residents.
He has been told that the amount of hardcore going through the rubbish tips has decreased since October, and suggested this meant waste was being dumped as in the Horsham district they had seen instances of bricks being put in domestic rubbish bins.
He said the county council would have to change its policy at waste sites given the reply from the DCLG, suggesting to do otherwise could leave them open to a judicial review.
Mr Circus added: “I do not think it would be very clever to ignore the Government’s clear view that people should not be charged for DIY waste.”
Meanwhile Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) said: “The decision to charge for household DIY waste was hasty and rushed through by the West Sussex Conservatives despite strong opposition from all the other parties.
“While it may be only guidance, the council is ignoring the Government’s own best practice, which is extremely clear that the county council should not be doing this. As a result, Labour would call for an immediate lifting of all charges for household DIY waste going forward.
“The council are playing games when they say there’s no direct evidence of the increase in charges causing fly tipping, yet district and borough councillors from across West Sussex are saying that it is going up.
“So what is causing it? The days of closure, the charges, the reduction in opening hours, or perhaps it is the longer queues to get into the tips in the first place. Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things.
“I fear however that the council is in denial on this whole issue because it is simply not in its interests to acknowledge that they have caused the problem, which will be precious little comfort to the districts and parishes who are suffering because of it, and having to pick up the bill.”
A spokesman for the county council said: “There has been no noticeable increase in fly tipping since the introduction of the charges at the Household Waste and Recycling Sites. We have carefully monitored any reports of fly tipping through our district and borough partners and none of them are reporting a direct increase as a result of the changes.
“Nationally there has been an increase in fly tipping year on year for the last 6-8 years. We are in the process of putting together a specialist team of officers who would enhance the anti fly tipping work by district and borough partners.
“Our actions and those of many other local authorities fully comply with the current legal legislation as defined by Controlled Waste Regulations 2012 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which specifically states that soil and hardcore is classified as an industrial or Non-Household waste and as such a charge can be levied for its disposal.
“We are aware of subsequent statements issued by government which, in our view, contradict this legislation. However, unless this legislation is changed by the Government - and there is currently no indication of any plans to do so - we do not intend to reverse our decision to charge for Non-Household Waste streams such as soil, hardcore and tyres.”
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