CLA South East has raised concerns that proposals to charge for non-household waste at recycling centres across Kent could lead to an increase in fly-tipping.
It comes as Kent County Council launches a public consultation into potentially charging for soil, rubble, hardcore and plasterboard – even if originating from a domestic property – at its 18 centres.
The authority is considering charging £6 per plasterboard bag and £4 per bag of soil, rubble and hardcore. While some other councils in England also charge, these proposed fees are higher than in some areas.
CLA South East represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the region. Regional Director Robin Edwards said: “Much good work is being done in the county to help try and bring offenders to justice, and there have been several recent cases of offenders being fined and prosecuted.
“But in many parts of Kent the number of fly-tipping cases is rising, blighting the Garden of England. For example, incidents in Maidstone grew by 22 per cent from 796 in 2015/16 to 973 in 2016/17, while Swale experienced a nine per cent rise from 2,966 to 3,243 and Ashford an increase of seven per cent from 800 to 856.
“It would be very disappointing if these numbers were to grow even bigger as a result of these new charges.
“It is easy to blame householders for the significant rise in fly-tipping, but we’re seeing more and more waste on an industrial scale dumped across the countryside. Part of the problem is council fees putting people off lawful disposal at the local tip, and it is also businesses not complying with existing waste disposal regulations.”
The Government’s Litter Strategy, released last year, states: “DIY waste is classed as household waste if it results from work a householder would normally carry out. A number of local authorities have introduced additional charges for the deposit of waste which local authorities categorise as ‘waste other than household waste’. However, as Government made clear following the consultation on preventing ‘backdoor’ charging at HWRCs, this can inconvenience residents and make disposing of their waste more difficult. There is also a risk these charges can be counterproductive and simply transfer costs to dealing with additional fly‑tipping and littering.”
It comes as Walsall Council is considering extending opening hours at its tips and introducing a free collection service for bulky household items, in a bid to tackle fly-tipping.
According to government figures, there were nearly 80,000 incidents of fly-tipping in the South East during 2016-17 and around one million nationally. In the last year, it is estimated that fly-tipping cost local authorities across the country nearly £58 million to clear.
The CLA has created a five-point action plan to tackle this blight on the countryside. Click here to read it.
The council’s consultation runs until 1 November and can be viewed on its website.