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Wiltshire Council quizzed on Garden waste charges

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A COMPREHENSIVE garden waste information pack was released by Wiltshire Council earlier this month, but it left several questions unanswered about how the scheme would operate and the impact it would have.

In April Wiltshire Council will begin charging £40 per year for fortnightly garden waste collections. Those who do not pay to opt in will be expected to compost or travel to one of  Wiltshire’s 11 household recycling centres (HRCs).

White Horse News contacted Wiltshire Council with some questions that weren’t fully addressed in the information pack. Our questions and Wiltshire Council’s responses are below :

• The council says it ‘does not expect a significant increase’ in fly tipping. Is this realistic? 

The council used to charge for the collection of garden waste in east, north and south Wiltshire as this was the collection system inherited from the district councils when Wiltshire Council was formed. 

We did not have problems with fly tipping before we introduced the current system so have no reason to believe we would experience a significant increase when we introduce the charge.

• The information pack says, ‘We hope that many residents will recognise the benefits of the kerbside collection and choose to pay.’ How many residents do you hope will take up the scheme and pay the £40 a year?

Our projections are based on 20% of households being prepared to pay so just over 40,000 households. From our research, other councils have uptake figures of roughly 16% of households. 

• If only 20% paid the charges, would this not lead to a large increase in the use of household recycling centres?

The council was operating the household recycling centres in the east, north and south of the county when there used to be a charge for collection of garden waste in those areas. 

We have the information about the number of tonnes of garden waste delivered to the centres at that time so will plan to accommodate similar quantities. We will keep the figures under review to see at an early stage whether any changes are required to the operation of the sites. 

In addition, we will encourage residents to consider composting their garden waste at home. The council subsidises the provision of food waste digesters which may also be used to compost garden waste. More details are available at www.wiltshire. gov.uk/rubbishand        recycling/rubbishhome composting.htm

Won’t people simply put their green waste into their regular waste bins? How can the council prevent this and won’t this mean extra refuse going into landfill? What would be the consequences for people who put green waste in their grey bin?

We will be encouraging residents to sign up to pay for the service, to compost their garden waste at home and to use the household recycling centres. In this way we aim to minimise the risk that residents put garden waste into their bin for non-recycled waste. 

As a consequence we hope to avoid an increase in waste going to one of the facilities that generates energy from waste or to landfill. We will keep these quantities under review.

• Have you considered the environmental impact of more people driving to the HRCs?

The information pack replies ‘Yes. However we hope that many residents will recognise the benefits of the kerbside collection and choose to pay the £40 annual charge rather than use the HRCs.’

• But if only 20% of householders take advantage of the home collection, surely the scheme will have a severe environmental impact?

As stated above, the council has previous experience of charging for garden waste collection. We will be encouraging residents to sign up for the scheme and also to compost at home. 

We anticipate that there would be an increase in the tonnes of garden waste delivered to the household recycling centres but would not expect the environmental impact to be severe. Wiltshire Council is projecting that 20% of residents would sign up and pay for the service. 

However, we hope that over time more residents will see the value of the service and sign up as we are aware that some other authorities have achieved a higher take-up rate.

• In terms of route efficiency, will there not be a lot of wasted journeys by the refuse vehicles?

Currently, collection crews have to visit everyone with a garden waste bin on every collection day throughout the year, even if they do not put their bin out for collection. The new charged service will mean that only residents who pay for the service will be visited by the crews on their collection days. 

This may result in vehicles travelling further distances between collections. We will keep the collection rounds under regular review to keep them as efficient as possible.”

• Your information pack says ‘We wish to avoid the cost of retrieving bins where at all possible.’  What would be the cost of retrieving the bins? 

We have not yet calculated this cost as it would depend on the number of people who want their bin to be retrieved. We are encouraging residents to retain their bins if they choose not to pay the annual charge of £40 (equivalent of £1.60 per collection) for the service straight away as they may decide to sign up in future.

We know that the council may receive a large number of bin retrieval requests so there will be a phased retrieval of bins by area and this may take some time.

• How much does Wiltshire Council estimate they will save by using the scheme? How was this figure arrived at?

The council expects to generate a net income of £800,000. This is based on the projected income from households which sign up to pay for the service and the savings from operating a lower number of collection vehicles less the costs incurred of putting the scheme in place.

More information and FAQs about the garden waste scheme can be found at www. wiltshire.gov.uk.