DCLG releases draft legislation banning HWRC charges

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has released draft legislation that bans local authorities (LAs) from charging residents for using household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).

DCLG releases draft legislation banning HWRC charges

Following on from DCLG’s announcement that it was ‘exploring options’ to prevent such charges, central government released a discussion paper, ‘Preventing “backdoor” charges at household waste recycling centres’ on Thursday (22 January) outlining that the practice would be illegal.

Despite there being a legislative requirement for LAs to provide residents with free-to-use HWRCs (for example, in the Environmental Protection Act 1990), DCLG has said it has become ‘aware’ that some LAs have introduced, or plan to introduce, a charge to anybody accessing certain HWRCs to dispose of household waste and/or household recycling. (For example, the Dorset Waste Partnership is currently consulting on proposals to charge residents entry fees to its HWRCs, alongside a raft of other options, in a bid to save money.)

DCLG said it believes that residents ‘deserve a comprehensive waste and recycling service in return for the £122 a month council tax typical B and D households pay’ and that councils who are charging residents at ‘discretionary’ HWRCs (i.e. those not covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990), are ‘attempting to impose a “backdoor” charge, circumventing the will of Parliament and the Government who have a clearly expressed policy of free-to-use centres for residents’.

According to central government, it is ‘concerned’ that these charges will ‘inconvenience residents; increase fly-tipping and back-yard burning; and make recycling harder for people rather than… easier’.

As such, it is considering implementing two new pieces of legislation, put forward in a discussion document to prevent councils from introducing charges to residents to dispose of household waste and/or recycling (charges for non-residents and non-household waste/recycling may still apply).

Legislation details

The ‘Local Government (Prohibition of Charges for the Deposit of Household Waste at a Household Waste Recycling Centre) (England) Order 2015’ states that, from 31 March 2015, councils will not be able to apply charges at ‘discretionary’ HWRCs when residents are entering, exiting or depositing household waste.

However, DCLG has stated that it ‘does not wish for existing household waste recycling centres to close as a result of this proposal’, so any HWRCs currently charging will be able to continue to do so until 31 March 2020. However, ‘alternative arrangements’ must be in place by April 2020.

Similarly, the ‘Local Authorities (Prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015’ prohibits LAs from ‘using the general power of competence’ to charge residents for entering, exiting or depositing household waste at ‘places where they may deposit household waste’.

The government said that it believes that residents should continue to have free access to HWRCs in their local authority area.

Following the release of this draft legislation, DCLG is now calling on all English LAs and English waste disposal authorities, the Local Government Association, the waste industry, and any ‘members of the public, businesses and the voluntary and community sector who are likely to be affected by the proposal’ to email in their views on the potential impacts of the proposals, as well as any ideas on how HWRCs ‘at risk of closure’ can stay open without imposing charges to residents, by 18 February.                                             

Read the full discussion paper.

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