FIVE of Somerset’s household waste recycling centres could close permanently in order save nearly a million pounds.

Somerset currently has 16 household waste recycling centres, which are operated by Biffa on a contract with Somerset Council.

The council published proposals for more than £35m of savings in early-January as it struggles to bridge a projected £100m budget gap for the next financial year.

To save £963,000, the council is proposing that five of the 16 shuts will permanently shut – with the land potentially being sold off to generate further income.

A further £235,000 could be generated by introducing a permit system so that only Somerset residents can use the remaining sites.

The county’s recycling centres are currently in the following locations:

  • Saltlands Avenue, Bridgwater
  • Dimmer Lane, Castle Cary
  • Beeching Close, Chard
  • Wedmore Road, Cheddar
  • Blacknell Lane, Crewkerne
  • Brushford Road, Dulverton
  • Manor Furlong, Frome
  • Bennett Road, Highbridge
  • Mart Road, Minehead
  • Bancombe Road, Somerton
  • Farm Lane, Street 
  • Venture Way, Taunton
  • Higher Poole, Wellington
  • Dulcolte Hill, near Wells
  • Roughmoor, Williton
  • Artillery Road, Yeovil

BBC Somerset claimed on January 17 that Castle Cary, Cheddar, Crewkerne,  Dulverton and Williton would be the five sites that would be shut down.

The closures are expected to generated £883,000 by April 2025, with a further £80,000 by April 2026.

The council said a final decision would be taken “based on those sites that offer the largest saving per tonne” and the final sites on the chopping block could change depending on commercially sensitive discussions.

A spokesman said: “We have a proposal that’s modelled on the closure of five sites and what savings we understand that would deliver, but this needs more work. Commercial negotiations are ongoing and could change sites considered at risk.

“When there are firm proposals there will be detailed consultation and plenty of opportunity for people share their views before decisions are made.

“The saving is modelled on the closure of five sites, the savings that could potentially deliver, visitor numbers and tonnages.

“However, it is important to appreciate that commercial negotiations are ongoing with our contractor and the five sites considered at risk could change depending on the outcome those negotiations.”

If the list published by BBC Somerset is accurate, it means longer journeys to recycling centres for four settlements which are experiencing significant housing growth.

The council confirmed that any closures would not be reversed should its financial position improve, and that some of the sites could be sold off to generate a capital receipt.

A spokesman said: “The closures will be permanent. We own some land that sites are on, but not all, so it would depend.

“Any decision to sell land would be subject to further discussions and decision-making processes.”

In addition to closing the recycling centres, the council intends to save a further £235,000 by implementing a new permit system to restrict the remaining sites solely to Somerset residents.

Several recycling centres lie close to the borders of neighbouring counties, with Chard attracting numerous residents from east Devon and west Dorset, while Frome is often used by Wiltshire residents.

A spokesman said: “The introduction of a county-wide permit booking scheme will allow Somerset residents only to access the recycling site network.

“This would prevent access to the sites by non-residents and therefore reduce
the amount of waste and cost of running the sites.”

The council’s corporate and resources scrutiny committee will debate the current budget proposals in Bridgwater on February 2.

Revised proposals will come before the executive in Taunton on February 7, with the final decision being taken by the full council in Bridgwater on February 20.