LARAC (The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee) has said it is “dismayed” at the recent comments by the Waste and Resources Minister on household waste and recycling centre closures.
During a parliamentary debate on fly-tipping, Waste and Resources Minister Robbie Moore said he was disappointed some local authorities are considering closing household waste and recycling centre closures (HWRCs). He “urged local authorities to look at the negative consequences associated with fly-tipping” as a result of closures.
In a statement given to Circular Online, LARAC said there is no proof that HWRC closures have a direct effect on the number of fly-tipping incidents and fly-tipping is an anti-social behaviour often used to avoid waste disposal costs.
LARAC said: “In particular, there seemed to be a lack of consideration for the extremely precarious financial circumstances local authorities are faced with in the current climate and following 14 years of budget cuts.
“Local authorities are tasked with making increasingly hard decisions when it comes to managing and funding waste services, and closures of HWRCs may have to be considered in order to balance their budgets.
“As long as council residents have access to other HWRCs, LARAC support their members in making tough decisions to close sites where needed.”
As long as council residents have access to other HWRCs, LARAC support their members in making tough decisions to close sites where needed.
Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Dyke pushed back against the minister’s comments during the debate and said that local councils are being forced to close HWRCs because of a lack of funding.
Reacting to Moore’s comments, Lee Marshall, CIWM Policy and External Affairs Director, FCIWM MILM, said local authorities are under “immense financial pressures and already do a lot to tackle littering and fly-tipping with the limited resources they have available”.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has previously said a potential ban on DIY waste charges for households could lead to HWRC closures and reduced hours in some council areas. In July last year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced the ban following what it described as “overwhelming” public support.
LARAC also expressed disappointment with Moore’s comments on fixed penalty notices (FPNs) being issued to fly-tippers.
When pressed on whether he would increase the upper limit on fly-tipping fines, Moore was critical of local authorities that are not issuing any FPNs for fly-tipping offences.
Moore replied: “Some councils, with significant fly-tipping issues, are barely scratching the surface, and are not issuing any FPNs in the first place. We have to ensure that those penalties are imposed, to create a deterrent.”
He told Parliament that Defra has written to councils to explain he expects them to take “tougher action” against fly-tippers.
LARAC said that while fly-tipping is costing local authorities across the country “thousands of pounds”, issuing FPNs for fly-tipping can strain local authorities financially.
The organisation continued: “The process (issuing FPNs) involves administrative tasks, enforcement staff expenses, legal framework establishment, technology investments, collection complexities, communication and education efforts, monitoring and evaluation costs, and resource-intensive appeals processes.
“Minister Moore promised to put a stop to waste criminals through ‘tough enforcement and regulation, better education and improved infrastructure’. LARAC urges the Minister to consider the fiscal and resource requirements for local authorities to make this promise a reality. “
Last year, the UK government increased the upper limit on fines for fly-tipping from £400 to £1,000. However, the LGA said these new powers “do not go far enough” and councils want to see this cap removed completely.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the LGA, also called for courts to use more suspended sentences, or custodial sentences, for anyone convicted of a second fly-tipping offence.