HAMPSHIRE residents will have to pay to use county council recycling centres unless they register their vehicles before their next visit in the new year.
The authority is bringing in fees for people driving in from outside the county to use the facilities from 2020, including the three New Forest sites at Marchwood, Efford at Lymington, and Somerley near Ringwood.
To avoid being billed £5 a trip, residents can now register up to three vehicles which will be scanned by automatic number plate recognition cameras each time they use any of Hampshire’s 24 household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
Once on the system, residents can use the vehicles to dump rubbish as many times as they like without extra charges or further checks. The precise start of the scheme will be determined early next year, said HCC.
Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s Conservative deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, defended the measures.
They come as the authority is trying to cut £80m of spending by 2021 amid reductions in government funding.
Cllr Humby said: “The county council’s extensive network of HWRCs provides one of the most efficient, effective and convenient ways for residents to recycle and dispose of household waste in Hampshire.
“We know that people living close to the Hampshire border often use Hampshire’s HWRCs, and we want to continue to accommodate them and encourage recycling.
“However, to make this fair to Hampshire council taxpayers who are already contributing to the £100m annual costs of dealing with Hampshire’s household waste, we are introducing a fee for non-Hampshire residents of £5 per visit.”
Hampshire residents who already hold a van or trailer permit do not need to re-register that particular vehicle. Charges for non-household waste, including soil and rubble, plasterboard and asbestos will remain.
HCC did not give figures when the A&T asked how much the number-plate recognition system cost and how much the new non-resident charge was forecast to bring in.
Instead Cllr Humby said the cameras were procured in 2016 and had already been used for purposes such as calculating visitor numbers. He said the cost of waste brought in by non-Hampshire residents came to about £500,000 which the new approach would “offset”.
Problems were predicted by Liberal Democrat Cllr David Harrison, of Totton South and Marchwood, who said: “I am glad the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times are giving this some publicity.
“I am very sure that many, many people are going to be caught out by this further restriction on recycling and will be pretty shocked to find that they face charges over and above the council tax they pay. “
He added: “Liberal Democrats favour a complete overhaul of the system towards making it much easier for people to recycle their waste. I anticipate problems for the staff at the recycling centres, more fly-tipping and less recycling. There isn’t any easy fix, without more resources to tackle the issue”.
An HCC spokesperson encouraged residents to register ahead of their next visit during the busy Christmas and new year period.
People living in Southampton and Portsmouth will also be able to register for free access to any Hampshire HWRC.
Registration opened today (Thursday). To register go to www.hants.gov.uk/vehicle-registration-hwrc or call 0300 555 1389.