MP claims Norfolk County Council is not acting ‘within the law’ in charging homeowners to dispose of DIY waste


Norman Lamb MP.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk Member of Parliament has claimed that the county's council has acted unlawfully in charging residents for disposing of DIY waste at recycling centres.

Charges for DIY waste at recycling centres across Norfolk started on April 1. Picture: STUART ANDERS

Charges for DIY waste at recycling centres across Norfolk started on April 1. Picture: STUART ANDERSON - Credit: Archant

In February, Norfolk County Council (NCC) announced that residents would be charged for getting rid of local household waste including rubble, plasterboard and flat glass.

Norman Lamb, the Member of Parliament for north Norfolk, has written to NCC's managing director, saying that: 'The routine charges of householders for depositing DIY waste at recycling centres is contrary to law and the county council should rethink its decision to impose these charges.'

Mr Lamb queried the legality of the decision in March 2018, when he questioned the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs on both the department's policies on household waste, and what the definition of household waste was.

In response, Mr Lamb was told by Dr Therese Coffey that an order was made in 2015 prohibiting local authorities from charging householders to deposit household waste at civic amenity sites, or household waste at recycling centres.

MORE: Fears new charges to leave DIY waste at Norfolk tips could increase fly-tipping

Mr Lamb was also informed that household waste was defined as 'waste from domestic properties, caravans, residential homes and premises forming part of a university, school, or other educational establishment, hospital or nursing home'.

In his letter, Mr Lamb said: 'I know that the county council stated that it was treating all DIY waste from the household as 'construction and demolition waste' but this simply cannot be justified under the terms of the legislation.'

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He added: 'I hope very much that you will undertake a full review and liaise with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair in the process.

'I am sure you will agree that it is very important for Norfolk County Council to act clearly within the law.'

He continued: 'I understand that a review is underway by the government but at this stage the law remains as it is and should be respected.'

MORE: Charges on leaving DIY waste at Norfolk tips start today

An NCC spokesperson said in response: 'In Norfolk we've been charging for all but very small amounts of DIY waste for many years now. The recent change has seen the removal of the concession that allowed people to leave one item or an 80l sack of DIY waste for free each week.

'Norfolk County Council does not charge residents for getting rid of their household waste at any of our recycling centres.

'DIY type construction and demolition waste includes materials such as rubble, plasterboard and flat glass and items such as fence panels, doors, fitted units and bathroom suites - basically fixtures and fittings to a house.

'Under current government legislation this type of material is classed as 'construction and demolition' waste and falls under the category of industrial waste. By law, councils do not have to accept industrial waste at their recycling centres.'

In February of this year, Martin Wilby, chairman of the Environment, Development and Transport Committee, justified their actions, saying: 'We have made this decision as we are not legally required to take people's DIY waste. I would urge people to make sure they are factoring in the cost of disposing of waste when they are spending on their latest DIY project.

'We know that there has been a lot of confusion around the concession over the years and it has been very tricky for site staff to administer so it is hoped that the new clearer system will help remove this confusion that has existed.'

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Sarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrat leader at North Norfolk District Council, who represents The Runtons ward, echoed the concerns of many people who have feared the charges would lead to a rise in fly tipping.

She said: 'This is very short-sighted because it is just the county council passing costs on to the district councils, because it is the districts that have to go around and clear up the fly tipping.

'We were categorically told by the Conservatives at County Hall that it would not adversely affect fly tipping, but I have recorded six incidents in my own ward just this week.

'It's an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so for me that speaks volumes.

'The vast majority of people want to act responsibly with rubbish, but they don't have a lot of money to spare and this feels like an extra cost to them.'

What do you think? Should the county council reverse its position and withdraw charges for leaving DIY waste at tips? Add your comments below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.