Kent moves forward with HWRC charges

Kent county council has moved forward with plans to introduce charges for ‘non-household waste’ at all 16 of its Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) across the county.

The decision follows a consultation where around 80% of the near 3,000 respondents disagreed with the proposals, mainly expressing concerns about increased fly tipping.

However, the council referenced several other authorities who had introduced similar charges including Surrey County Council and the nearby Bromley Borough Council, which it claims either didn’t report an increase in fly-tipping or reported increases in line with the national average.

The council added that in order to prevent HWRCs from closing, as in some other council areas, the charges will need to be introduced.

The council has taken a step towards endorsing the plans  after a report to the Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee recommended that a £4 charge be introduced per bag of soil and rubble, and a £6 per bag charge for plasterboard.

The endorsed proposals, which require final approval from cabinet member Mike Whiting, also include a daily limit on soil, rubble and hardcore, of a maximum of five bags or items per day.

Green councillor Martin Whybrow, stated that despite concerns raised during the consultation he remains confident that fly-tipping won’t increase as a result of the measure.

He said: “I am always reluctant to go against such a clear message from a consultation, but the message was very much about fly-tipping, and when you listen to the experts, as I believe we probably should be reassured, and we should support this motion.”

The council said that the HWRCs in the county receive approximately 185,000 tonnes of waste from around 3.5 million visits per year, at a cost of approximately £10 million to the taxpayer.

The council anticipates that the charges will bring an extra £4 million in revenue, of which around £1.4 million will go on hauling and processing costs, and a further £1 million on staff costs.

The council says that this would therefore bring forward a £1.6 million contribution to the annual budget. This is favourable to other proposals, the council said, such as completely banning non household material, or introducing permits.

At a meeting on Friday 18 January, the Committee voted nine in favour of the move, with two against, while five abstained.

When questioned if the vote will have any effect, due to the “varying degree of disagreement”, council leader Mike Whiting, who will have the final vote said:  “I appreciate the endorsement that has been recorded through the vote, I will take all of it away and think carefully before I make a decision”.