AN INCREASE in flytipping and bonfires is anticipated if Dorset residents are charged for using the Somerley household recycling centre (HRC).

Charges are expected to be introduced for Dorset residents at the centre, which is close to the Dorset-Hampshire border, from April next year.

Hampshire County Council says that more than half the users of their site come from the Verwood, West Moors, Ashley Heath, Alderholt, and surrounding areas – with 20,000 Dorset households within a five-mile radius of the site.

A recent survey undertaken by Hampshire County Council, shows that Dorset residents makes up nearly 56 per cent of total visits to the site. The nearest Dorset household recycling site for most of these would be Wimborne which is already busy and suffers long traffic queues.

More than 1500 responses to a survey show that 46 per cent of respondents visit Somerley at least once per month. And 59 per cent of respondents say they will add more waste to their kerbside bins.

A report to Dorset councillors says the possible impact of any charge will disproportionately affect lower income households and is likely to increase the amount of waste not being recycled as well as lead to a possible increase, or a perception of an increase, in flytipping.

The report also says there are already long queues and delays at Wimborne HRC which will only worsen with more cars on the road and more pollution as a result.

Until now Dorset has paid Hampshire £60,600 a year for its residents to use the Somerley site but will stop making the payments in April if Hampshire go ahead with its proposal to introduce charges.

The option to improve Wimborne HRC was investigated some years ago and rejected due to high costs. A new centre to serve East Dorset has been estimated at between £3-5 million.

The report says the knock-on implications for cross-border waste charging could be Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council eventually review its arrangements for Dorset residents using the Millhams and Nuffield HRCs.

A payment is made to BCP based on historic usage of the Nuffield site by Dorset residents and currently stands at £70,000 per annum; access to Millhams is currently free to Dorset residents based on a reciprocal arrangement whereby former Bournemouth Borough Council residents access the Christchurch HRC without charge.

The recommendations proposed in the report, which was due to come before Dorset Council’s Place Scrutiny committee today, were that Dorset Council do not pay Hampshire County Council in lieu of proposed charges to users of the Somerley HRC. It was also recommended budget provision for Somerley HRC of £60,630 be retained in the waste budget to cover consequential costs including additional disposal costs and flytipping “anticipated” as a result of charges being introduced.