New Forest Liberal Democrats launch petition to save household waste and recycling centres at Marchwood and Somerley after Conservative-run Hampshire County Council seeks to meet a forecasted £132m budget shortfall
A PETITION against the proposed closure of two New Forest household waste and recycling centres has gathered more than 1,500 signatures.
The facilities in Marchwood and Somerley, near Ringwood, are among 12 under threat, as Conservative-run Hampshire County Council seeks to meet a forecasted £132m budget shortfall by April 2025.
The petition has been launched by the New Forest Liberal Democrats, including Cllr Jack Davies, who called the proposal “ill-considered” and “unworkable”.
He said: “Closing the sites at Somerley and Marchwood would leave Pennington as the sole household waste recycling centre for the whole of the New Forest.
“The queues and tailbacks will be unimaginable.”
The county council states that if the changes are made, 93% of Hampshire households would still have access to a waste and recycling centre within seven miles of their home.
However, this would mean a 22-mile journey for Fordingbridge residents, said Cllr Davies.
“On a Sunday morning that journey could take up to an hour,” he said.
“Pardon the pun – [it’s] a load of rubbish.”
As reported in the A&T, the council has identified five sites in other areas of the county which are the smallest and poorest performers, which it says closing could save around £500,000 per year.
Closures at a further seven sites, including Marchwood and Somerley, due to “operational changes and investment requirements” would net the council savings of £1.6m per year.
Cllr Caroline Rackham added: “At a time when we should be encouraging recycling, it seems counter-strategic to make it harder to take a trip to the tip.
“Closing these recycling centres will only encourage flytipping, and any savings made will be eaten up in additional costs for clearing up our Forest.”
Alternative ways to save money suggested by the council include reducing the opening hours of centres by 57%, which it estimates would save £1.2m.
The disposal of expensive waste types, such as soil and rubble, could be limited to a few designated sites, and waste containers for rarely deposited waste types could be removed to free up space.
Additionally, some waste management sites could become “recycling only” by restricting the deposit of non-recyclable materials such as household waste.
The county council says it is also “exploring” new ways for introducing new fees, such as a premium booking slot which would provide access outside of the standard operating hours, or the sale of chargeable items like gloves or sacks on site.
The authority admits that closing some sites may impact employees, which Veolia manages on behalf of the council, and there could be job losses.
If given the go-ahead, changes are expected to be brought in from summer next year.
Hampshire’s network of tips is the largest in England, with 24 sites of different sizes, accessibility and levels of efficiency, costing more than £10m a year to operate.
In 2022/23, Hampshire residents made more than 2-million bookings to deposit nearly 120,000 tonnes of household waste across the network.
Public consultation on the plans is open for residents until 31st March. To take part, visit https://hampshirecc.welcomesyourfeedback.net/s/FSC
To sign the petition, visit www.nflibdems.org.uk/campaigns