HAMPSHIRE residents have until 1st April to register their vehicles with the county council to avoid paying £5 every time they use one of its recycling centres.
More than 150,000 have so far been given permits online since the new system was revealed in December, before the deadline was announced this week.
Hampshire County Council says the scheme is to help recover the £500,000 it costs each year to serve non-Hampshire visitors to the county’s 24 household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
The set-up involves automatic number plate recognition cameras to catch those not registered as local. There will be no charge for Hampshire residents who register their cars, including those coming from Southampton and Portsmouth.
It means that anyone from the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council area will have to pay to use Hampshire HWRCs, including those at Somerley near Ringwood, Efford near Lymington, and Marchwood.
However, for those living in the neighbouring Dorset Council jurisdiction, HCC said there were “separate arrangements” being made to keep access free, which will be announced in the spring.
Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s Conservative cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, said: “There is still plenty of time to register, and once Hampshire residents have done this, they will see no change when they next visit a Hampshire HWRC.
“We’re bringing in this system because I am keen we find a way that provides effective and environmentally practicable options for residents who live close to Hampshire’s borders, to continue to access the HWRCs, but in a way that is fairer to Hampshire residents who pay for the cost of the service through their council tax.”
Cllr Humby said a number of neighbouring authorities were planning a complete ban on Hampshire residents using their HWRCs.
He went on: “While we advocated a position of maintaining access for all residents to their nearest HWRC, regardless of where they lived, it was not possible to come to an agreement in a way that recognised the costs borne by the council dealing with the waste, despite our best efforts.
“Other local authorities face similar financial challenges to us and so I completely understand how different councils have taken different approaches to meet local circumstances.”
He said the extra income would help HCC bridge the shortfall in its budget from cuts to government funding, rising costs and inflation, and growing demand for services.
The idea was not welcomed by Liberal Democrat Cllr David Harrison, who predicted when it was first announced that a lot of people would get “caught out”.
He said: “It’s being done by the Conservative administration at Hampshire County Council, now that the general election is over and they have secured your votes.
“I anticipate that this will cause aggravation at the HWRCs, with staff explaining to customers that they now have to pay for something they thought was already covered by their council tax.
“I think it will discourage recycling, just at the time when it is vital we improve recycling performance. I also think that it will encourage more fly-tipping.”
Cllr Humby is due to sign off the 1st April start date at his next decision day on 14th January.
Hampshire residents who already hold a van or trailer permit do not need to re-register that vehicle.
To register for free access to any Hampshire HWRC, go to www.hants.gov.uk/vehicle-registration-hwrc or call 0300 555 1389.