Charges at rubbish tips including those introduced in West Sussex last year should be stopped, according to the Government’s new anti-littering strategy.
Since October residents have been charged £4 per bag or sheet to dispose of non-household waste such as soil, hard-core, DIY, and plasterboard at West Sussex County Council’s civic amenity sites.
At the same time hours of operation were reduced, while the majority of rubbish tips are now closed for two days a week as part of cost-cutting measures introduced by the Tory administration.
The Government’s anti-littering strategy published on Monday (April 10) includes plans to stop councils from charging for the disposal of DIY household waste as ‘legally household waste is supposed to be free to dispose of at such sites’.
Opposition parties including the Lib Dems, Labour and UKIP have all called on the charges to be scrapped since October.
Jim Deen, Labour’s county council election candidate for Worthing Pier, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of new measures to combat the menace of fly-tipping, but these measures will only have some effect in the Worthing area if West Sussex County Council listens to the instructions of its own Government.
“Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has told councils to end the ‘unfair’ practice of charging residents to use waste and recycling units.
“She says what Labour has been saying for the last few months, that charges are ‘a lead factor in the rise of fly-tipping’.”
He explained that Teville Gate in Worthing had been the latest target of fly tippers this week, adding: “Whilst it is obviously wrong for people to create their own waste centre - open 24/7, with no charges - fly-tipping is going to be an increasing problem unless the county council scraps these charges.
“At the same time as scrapping the charges, it should also return the waste centres to seven-day operation. Closing the centres on Thursday and Friday is causing increased pressure on the other days with long queues to get in. This factor is also likely to increase fly-tipping.
“All Labour’s candidates in the forthcoming county council elections are committed to getting the charges removed and restoring the waste and recycling centres to seven-day opening. We are fully committed to encouraging recycling of all waste materials.”
James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the Lib Dem group, has called on charges to be dropped and arrangements to refund all those who have been ‘illegally charged’ in the last few months.
In an email to officers, he said: “I am sure that WSCC will not continue to defy clear government direction, and levy this illegal charge.”
Dr Walsh added: “This is a victory for our local Liberal Democrat petition and campaign against the ‘Tip Tax’, and to those across the country who have also campaigned.”
On Monday, Mrs Leadsom said: “Litter is something that affects us all – blighting our countryside, harming our wildlife, polluting our seas, spoiling our towns, and giving visitors a poor impression of our country.
“Our litter strategy will tackle this antisocial behaviour by building an anti-litter culture; making it easier for people to dispose of rubbish; and hitting litter louts in the pocket.
“We want to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, and tackling litter is an important part of our drive to make the country a better place to live and visit.”
Back in January a Conservative county councillor argued that Government guidance suggested charging for household DIY waste was ‘illegal’.
In response 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.”
The county council has been approached for comment but has not yet responded.
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