AN increase in fly tipping and bonfires is anticipated if Dorset residents are charged for using the Somerley household recycling centre in Hampshire.

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 council say that more than half the users of their site come from the Verwood, West Moors, Ashley Heath, Alderholt, the north of Ferndown 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 resident 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.

A report to Dorset councillors this week 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 in fly-tipping.

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

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

The option to improve the Wimborne centre 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.

A report to the Dorset Place committee meeting in Dorchester today says the knock-on implications for cross-border waste charging could mean Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council eventually reviewing its arrangements for Dorset residents using the Millhams and Nuffield recycling centres.

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 centre without charge.