Later this year Hampshire County Council (HCC) will be introducing a registration scheme to use the county’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs). Barriers and Automatic Number Plate Registration (ANPR) systems will be installed to allow access only to vehicles with a pre-registered number plate. Non-registered vehicles will be subject to a £5 charge – for each visit.
Registration is simple and free and takes only a couple of minutes (unless, like me, you have to wait for your wife to get home from work because you can’t remember her car’s number plate). It can be done on the Hampshire County Council website, https://www.hants.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling/recyclingcentres/vehicle-registration, where there is also a cartoon-illustrated explanation of how the new system will work. Registration can also be done by phone, by calling 0300 555 1389.
Registration only needs to be done once (unless you change your car) and can be done now so we are ready for when the barriers are installed. Up to three vehicles can be registered per household and, once registered, you can go to any Hampshire HWRC. Only residents of Hampshire – including Southampton and Portsmouth – can register. Also, Hampshire residents can continue to use the recycling centres in Southampton and Portsmouth.
I can’t help asking myself what problem is being solved here? Is it really worth it? Does the cost of installing the barriers and ANPR systems outweigh the cost of allowing a few out-of-county residents to use HCC’s HMRC’s? Is it not better, environmentally, for a household to take waste to the nearest recycling centre, irrespective of the council that operates it? How much of the cost of non-HCC residents using HCC facilities is offset by HCC residents who use non-HCC facilities? Are the county councils being too parochial – as The League of Gentleman might have put it: “This is a local recycling centre for local people”.
But then, who knows what the future holds? Free registration today – but will it be free registration always? The systems are all in place; it wouldn’t be difficult to add a small fee to the registration process. You heard it here first – or am I just being cynical?