Picture: North Farm tip in Tunbridge Wells [Craig Matthews]
County Hall leaders are hoping to make £4million a year by charging residents for disposing of non-household waste at tips.
Under plans, customers would pay £4 to drop of a standard black sack of soil, rubble or hardcore waste, or £6 per bag or sheet of plasterboard.Ã¯Â¿Â½
The disputed proposal has now gone out to consultation after Kent County Council’s environment committee approved a draft in a meeting last week.
Under the scheme the authority stands to claim back £4million, which is £1million more than is currently spent annually processing non-household waste.
A county council spokesman said: ‘The county council believes this option will offer savings, whilst still maintaining this valuable service.
‘Other councils are considering closing waste centres, reducing opening hours or not accepting various types of waste.’
He added: ‘Waste management officers are developing projects and policy changes designed to reduce demand on site and create revenue streams for non-household waste.’
The proposal has the potential to impact on all of Kent’s Household Waste Recycling Centres, including the tip in Tunbridge Wells.
This tip in North Farm is likely to come under further pressure following the closures of centres in Wadhurst and Forest Row.
The Conservative-led county council said current waste infrastructure ‘will not have the capacity’ to meet expected levels of waste growth. Almost half of all waste disposal authorities in England now charge.
This policy has led to a decrease in waste dumping in other areas.
County Cllr Ian Chittenden, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Environment and Transport, said: ‘Under the current system, Kent residents are paying to dispose of other people’s waste, as people in neighbouring counties take advantage of our free service.
‘That isn’t right, and that’s why we’ve had to consider introducing a small charge for non-household waste.
‘The Liberal Democrats have been fighting to make sure this charge is reasonable, and that the money raised will be used to improve the county’s waste disposal services.’
Mark Hood, of Tonbridge & Malling Green Party, added: ‘This proposal has some merits but could penalise people undertaking DIY projects who wish to dispose of materials safely.
‘It could also lead to an increase in unsafe and anti-social disposal, including fly-tipping. We would urge KCC to strengthen measures to prevent disposal of commercial waste at tips.’
The county council spokesman said: ‘We do not believe it will and evidence from other authorities that already charge shows fly tipping has remained the same.’
The consultation process is set to be carried out for 12 weeks from August with the results to be brought to the council’s Cabinet in early 2019.
At that stage the county council will decide at that stage whether to proceed.
It will be available from next month by visiting: www.consultations.kent.gov.uk