Fly-tipping fears over U-turn on weekly bin collections

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THE countryside could face a surge in fly-tipping as a result of the Government’s failure to meet its pledge on weekly bin collections, campaigners have warned.

The coalition balked at the estimated £100m to £500m cost of the policy, going back on Eric Pickles pre-election promise to end fortnightly collections.

But while some environmental groups welcomed the announcement, believing it will encourage recycling, the Countryside Alliance fears that some will simply dump rubbish in rural areas.

Alliance chief executive Alice Barnard said: “Of course the focus is on household bins, but this report misses the likely consequences of retaining fortnightly collections in the countryside: a higher incidence of fly-tipping.

“With well over half of all fly-tips involving household waste; we believe this figure can only increase, putting more pressure on the limited resources of local authorities, who are responsible for clearing up this blight.

“While the review tries to delegate responsibility to cash-strapped councils trying to meet public demand for weekly collections and Government targets on recycling, victims of fly-tipping in the countryside are being largely ignored.”

In Yorkshire the majority of councils collect household waste fortnightly, including Barnsley, York, Calderdale, Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Selby, Doncaster and Kirklees. In Sheffield, East Riding and Wakefield the collections are weekly.

Councils warned that if they switched back they would be hit by the cost of increased bin rounds and re-negotiating waste contracts, as well as the possibility of higher landfill taxes and European Union fines for missing waste targets if recycling rates fall and rubbish increases as a result of the changes.

A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “The current system, which was introduced in 2008, works well for the vast majority of householders and encourages people to minimise waste and recycle more.

“To reinstate weekly collections would cost us around £6m over the course of our medium term financial plan. In the last five years in Kirklees, the amount of waste collected and burnt has dropped by over 25 per cent and the amount recycled has increased by over 50 per cent.”

The Countryside Alliance estimate that 63 per cent of fly-tipping involve household waste, and there were around on million fly-tipping incidents dealt with in England last year.

Friends of the Earth’s waste campaigner, Julian Kirby, believes fortnightly collections are better for the environment.

“Cash-strapped councils will be relieved ministers have ditched ludicrous proposals to force them to provide weekly bin rounds,” he said.

“Fortnightly collections are cheaper, encourage recycling and are popular with householders.

“The Government has spent a year reviewing its approach to rubbish and all it’s managed to do is reduce its ambition, recycle old ideas and dump its commitment to a zero waste economy.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced there would be funding – around £10m – to provide the infrastructure needed to develop anaerobic digestion, a process that can turn food and farm waste into energy. The money could include funding for councils to pick up organic waste.

Mrs Spelman also said the Government was removing barriers that stopped councils returning to weekly bin rounds where they were wanted. She said: “Householders felt battered and berated by Government in relation to waste collection.”