25 October 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Surrey scraps HWRC wood charge plans

Surrey county council is set to scrap plans to charge for construction wood at its household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs).

And, the council will also halt the planned closure of four facilities and instead seek savings through other means, including “the implementation of initiatives to reduce waste volumes further”.

Cost saving

The proposals had formed part of plans to save £1 million on the running of the county’s 15 centres, with the council having to find £200 million of savings to its budget by 2021.

Surrey recycling centres

Surrey county hall, where the cabinet look likely to confirm the plans on 29 October

All HWRCs in Surrey county council’s area are run by Suez.

In January 2019, the council postponed the planned closure of four HWRCs – Bagshot, Cranleigh, Dorking and Warlingham – while it reviewed its services, but confirmed plans for a charge on wood which were set to be introduced in June (see letsrecycle.com story).

This would have meant residents being charged £30 for a loose car load of construction wood and people with single items of wood or a bag no bigger than 50cm x 77cm would be charged £4.

The council’s website lists construction wood waste such as sheds, fencing panels and posts, decking and fitted kitchen units, with the charge only being issued “to cover the costs of disposing of it”.

However, this was scrapped days before its introduction while the council planned a review into it, and has now been recommended to be scrapped after a task group looking into the proposals said there are other ways to find the savings.

The charges would have saved the council £300,000, while site closures would have saved a further £650,000 a year.

Offset

The report said that that scrapping the wood charges could be offset by savings “sought through initiatives to increase recycling rates at the kerbside and by seeking commercial opportunities which arise from the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy”.

Also, the existing charging scheme for rubble, soil, plasterboard and tyres will be retained and Suez will continue to expand reuse shops and explore whether there are alternatives that could deliver better value for money. VAT will also be removed from them.

An annual charge of £8.50 will also be introduced for van and trailer permits from 1 January 2020.

‘Highly valued’

Commenting ahead of the meeting on Tuesday, October 29, Mike Goodman, cabinet member for Environment and Waste, said: “We know that our CRC service is highly valued by residents, so we’re pleased to announce that we’re keeping our current network of sites open and not introducing any charges for wood waste.

“We are determined to create a greener future for our county. We want to help by making it as easy to recycle both at our CRCs and at home too. But we all need to take responsibility for what we’re throw away. We simply just can’t shut our bin lid and leave our rubbish for someone else to sort out.”

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