Plans to close up to two of Buckinghamshire’s ten household waste recycling (HWRC) sites and to reduce opening hours at other sites have been approved by Buckinghamshire county council today (7 January).
The measures are a part of cost-saving steps aimed at cutting around £1.25 million from the council’s current budget and will include the introduction of charges for certain materials at the remaining sites.
Buckinghamshire’s cabinet voted in favour of the cost-cutting measures at a meeting today, following a public consultation on the plans in 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story).
The ten HWRCs are operated by FCC Environment through a contract with the council and are visited around 1.8 million times per year according to figures published by the authority.
The site earmarked for closure is the Bledlow Ridge HWRC – due to shut its gates in April 2019 – situated close to the border with Oxfordshire one of the four quietest of the ten facilities according to the council.
Buckinghamshire council will also potentially close its Burnham facility from 30 September, subject to a financial review of the other changes being implemented.
Among the other changes being implemented from April are charges for any waste that is classed as ‘non-household’ which will include waste resulting from the construction, demolition, renovation or alteration of homes and outbuildings, and rubble, soil and treated wood resulting from garden landscaping. Green waste will continue to be accepted without charge.
Charges are likely to be set at a level of £2.50 per 25 litre bag, as well as £4 for tyres, £2.50 per 25 litre bag of soil and £10 “per equivalent size to a door 2m x 1m” of ‘chargeable’ wood.
Opening hours at three sites will reduce from seven to five days a week as an additional measure.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Bill Chapple OBE, the authority’s cabinet member for planning & environment, said: “The changes we are making to the household recycling centre service have been very carefully considered so that they make as little disruption as possible to residents across the county as a whole. However, I do accept that some of the changes, especially permanent closure of a site, will have an impact on residents living in that locality.
“Although I would much rather inconvenience no-one, these closures are unfortunately necessary if we are to realise the level of cost savings the Council’s budget requires.”
Concerns were raised at the cabinet meeting of the potential for site closures to contribute to an increase in fly-tipping, with the council having promised to increase enforcement action against offending businesses if necessary.
Cllr Chapple added: “I’m aware that there is widespread concern that the changes agreed today will cause more fly tipping. But evidence from around the country says otherwise – ordinary householders don’t suddenly become criminals because changes are made at their local tip. However, we have zero tolerance of fly tipping, any will take immediate action if there’s any sign of an increase due to these changes.”