'Welwyn Hatfield garden waste charge plan is illegal'

PUBLISHED: 07:44 19 November 2016

Cllr Malcolm Cowan is starting a campaign against a proposal to charge for garden waste collection.

Cllr Malcolm Cowan is starting a campaign against a proposal to charge for garden waste collection.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

A controversial council plan to charge for Welwyn Hatfield garden waste collection is badly thought out and potentially illegal, critics have claimed.

The borough council has started a consultation on charging to pick up garden waste, but not clarified how it will deal with food waste, which residents currently put in the same brown bins.

Lib Dem group leader Malcolm Cowan said: “We believe in any case that charging is not appropriate in Welwyn Hatfield, but it is astonishing to find the council have not even checked out whether their plans are allowable.

”There appears to be no intention to provide a food waste collection service, as other councils who have charged for collecting garden waste do, raising questions about the legality of the proposed service changes.”

At a recent meeting of the county-wide Herts Waste Partnership, officers warned that ending free garden waste collection could stop people recycling food waste.

They told the partnership, which brings together councils across the county: “This is a backwards step in environmental terms and the wrong message for residents who have been encouraged over many years as to the importance of reducing waste and diverting material from the residual containers.”

Officers also warn that recycling food waste separately from garden waste may need expensive equipment, and jeopardise commercial contracts.

A borough council spokeswoman said: “The collection and disposal of food and garden waste is a complex issue and we have to balance a number of legal, environmental, logistical and cost implications.

“Garden waste continues to make up the vast majority of material collected in the brown bins. Collecting garden waste on its own would reduce processing costs. We will be reviewing a number of options for food waste, including the possibility of a separate food waste collection.”

In a Twitter poll conducted by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, 92 per cent of people voted to keep the garden waste service as it is, with four per cent opting to pay a subscription, and a further four per cent favouring ending the service.

Labour members have proposed a motion to Monday’s full council meeting, urging for the consultation to be scrapped.

Group leader Kieran Thorpe said: “It will reduce recycling, and it is unfair. We hope people will come to the meeting to show how strongly they feel about this.”

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