North Yorkshire Council has said a government policy change designed to reduce fly-tipping has left it £889,000 out of pocket, forcing it to look for new ways of saving money.
Last month, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced households would no longer have to pay to get rid of DIY waste at household waste recycling centres, such as those at Penny Pot Lane and Wetherby Road in Harrogate and Dallamires Crescent in Ripon.
DIY waste will now be treated the same as household waste, saving tip visitors up to £10 per sack of rubble or sheet of plasterboard. The change, which enjoys widespread public support and was lobbied for by organisations including the National Farmers’ Union, is due to come into effect later this year.
But North Yorkshire Council, which is one of the third of English local authorities that still charge for household DIY waste, told the Stray Ferret there was little evidence the move would reduce fly-tipping, although it could mean cuts elsewhere.
Cllr Greg White, North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for waste, said:
“We introduced charges for residents to dispose of soil, rubble and plasterboard at our household waste recycling centres in 2014 following a consultation in which residents stated they would rather pay a fee at sites than have to seek an alternative such as hiring a skip.
“This was implemented to preserve other services, many of which the council must legally provide. The abolition of charging means that many taxpayers will have to meet the costs of those few undertaking home improvements.
“We care passionately about minimising fly-tipping, but do not believe that the proposed changes will result in a significant decrease. We are not aware of any research that has found a link between charging for waste at household waste recycling centres and increased fly-tipping, which suggests that the removal of charges may not reduce fly-tipping levels. It’s important to remember that there is a large percentage of fly-tipped waste that can be disposed of for free at our household waste recycling centres.
“As a result of this change, we forecast that we will incur disposal costs of £586,000 and lose income of £303,000, creating a cost pressure of £889,000 which will force the council to look for savings elsewhere.”
Local authorities across England deal with well over a million fly-tipping incidents annually, according to government data, and it is estimated that fly-tipping and waste crime cost the economy £924m per year.
In an effort to tackle the issue, the government has consulted on reforming the waste carrier, broker, dealer regime and on introducing mandatory digital waste tracking. It is also developing a fly-tipping toolkit with the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group to help spread best practice among local authorities.
Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association, the trade body representing the UK’s waste management industry, said:
“We welcome any measures that make it easier for householders to dispose of waste correctly and responsibly at their local household waste recycling centres, which in turn reduces the chance of it falling into the hands of criminals or being fly-tipped.
“The government clarified the law in 2015 that local taxpayers should not be charged for disposing of household waste at civic amenity sites – scrapping backdoor ‘tip taxes’. It has also repeatedly stated that councils should not be charging for such DIY household waste disposal either.”
Incidents of fly-tipping can be reported to North Yorkshire Council via its website.
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