Defra Ministers Criticise Norfolk Over “Back Door Bin Charge”

26-02-14(4)picDefra ministers have written to Norfolk County Council expressing concern over the council’s plans to charge residents to use its household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs), saying that doing so will only create “perverse incentives”. 

The council announced that it would be consulting on proposels for a £2 public charge at nine of its 20 HWRCs in a bid to cut costs.

Norfolk county council said it needed to make up a £189m shortfall in its overall budget over the next three years and it forecasts that introducing a £2 HWRC charge per visit will earn them £280,000 in 2016/17.

A Norfolk council spokesperson said about the plans: “None of the proposals being put forward for frontline services so that the county council can bridge the unprecedented funding gap that we are facing in Norfolk.”

Minister for waste, Dan Rogerson, however, has slammed the proposal as a “back door bin charge”, saying it will both inconvenience local council tax-paying residents and create “perverse incentives”.

The letter goes on to state that charging for use of the centres will increase fly-tipping and discourage people from recycling goods like electrical items, instead choosing to simply discard them as residual waste.

The letter also reminds the council that according to the Environmental Protection Act (Section 51) local authorities have a duty to provide sites for the deposit of household waste. Where such sites are provided in fulfilment of this duty, waste must be accepted free of charge.

The letter in full reads:

“Dear colleagues,

“It has been brought to our attention that Norfolk County Council is consulting on proposals for a £2 public charge at 9 of its 20 household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) in a bid to cut costs.

“It is our belief that this backdoor bin charge will both inconvenience local council tax paying residents and create perverse incentives.

“Charging for using recycling centres will increase the risk of fly-tipping, harming the local environment and diverting taxpayers’ money to clean up the mess.

“In addition, both Defra and DCLG have an interest in making it easy for people to recycle. A charge for using a household waste site (where for example electrical goods are collected separately for recycling) will mean that householders simply put such items in their residual waste bins, so they end up in landfill.

“In terms of legislation, the Environmental Protection Act (Section 51) states that local authorities have a duty to provide sites for the deposit of household waste. Where such sites are provided in fulfilment of this duty, waste must be accepted free of charge.

“We are interested to hear how Norfolk County Council squares its charging proposals with the requirements of the Act. 

“We firmly believe that Norfolk County Council’s proposal to charge for HWRCs provision runs against the interests of householders and government’s environmental concerns and suggest it seriously revisits its thinking.”

Dan Rogerson MP       Brandon Lewis MP

To view the letter CLICK HERE

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