Communal bins for Old and New Towns after years of resistance

A seagull gets stuck into a bin bag
A seagull gets stuck into a bin bag
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LARGE communal bins are to be introduced to most streets within the world heritage site, ending years of resistance to the proposals by residents.

City council officials have controversially recommended that communal bins used across the city will now be the main method of collecting waste in the New Town and Old Town.

It means an end to black bag collections, which are provided for nearly 10,000 of the 12,000 properties in the historic site, often resulting in litter-strewn streets when bags have been ripped open by gulls, animals and people.

Residents, including senior judges, have fought the “containerisation” of waste collections within the world heritage site for nearly a decade since it was first proposed.

Council chiefs will try to appease opponents of the plan by offering an alternative of large canvas bags that gulls cannot break into on some “sensitive” streets, or where there is “strong resident preference”.

Local councillors have said opposition to the large bins has eased since pilot initiatives on some streets showed that they tended to make the streets cleaner.

But heritage groups have accused the proposals of being only a “short-term solution”.

Marion Williams, director of heritage group The Cockburn Association, said: “In a lot of other European cities they put them underground. I know that is expensive, but if it is a long-term initiative then surely that would be an option.

“We are talking about a world heritage site and all the benefits of having that status so I would have thought it would be a small price to pay.

“What we do with the public realm in the world heritage site is an absolutely vital issue and the way we treat waste is at the top of that list.”

Council officials have opted against evening bin collections after they proved unpopular during pilot initiatives.

The communal bins to be introduced are mainly “spider bins” that are half the size of the largest 3200-litre bins used in some streets and are also green instead of black.

Satisfaction rates among those who took part in communal container collections was 91 per cent, compared with 87 per cent for those who trialled gull-proof bags and 42 per cent that took part in pilots of evening collections of black bags.

City centre councillor Joanna Mowat said: “If there is still the option of gull-proof bags for some, then that will alleviate concerns of those residents that are still violently opposed to large bins.

“As bins have gone in, superior levels of cleanliness has swayed some people who have seen that actually they are not so bad, and there is also the advantage of being able to put rubbish out when you like.”

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said: “Our pilot project has been a great success in identifying new and better collection methods for the unique surroundings of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.

“Black sack collections have become well past their use-by date, being so vulnerable to gulls and vermin they lead to rubbish strewn across pavements.

“We’re very grateful to residents in the pilot areas for their invaluable feedback, which is fundamental to the changes we would now like to put in place.”