Edinburgh dad lashes out after 'noisy wall of bins' put outside daughter's bedroom window

The family has been forced to live at the back of their flat to get away from the noise.
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A furious father has lashed out at the council after a 'noisy wall of bins' has been placed outside his daughter's bedroom window.

Nick Hepworth is fighting to get an eight metre bin hub outside his ground floor Marchmont flat moved further down the street beside shops, where they have been for two decades.

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Since the bins were put directly outside the entrance to his stair on Friday he said the noise is 'oppressive' and has forced the family to stay at the back of their flat.

The bin hubs – corrals of six varied kinds of bins at regular intervals along a street – are being rolled out across the Capital in an effort to boost recycling. But the placing of the hubs, often right outside people’s homes, has caused controversy, with complaints that the council is adopting rigid criteria over where they must go.

Nick Hepworth has hit out at the council over a 'wall of bins' outside his daughter's bedroom windowNick Hepworth has hit out at the council over a 'wall of bins' outside his daughter's bedroom window
Nick Hepworth has hit out at the council over a 'wall of bins' outside his daughter's bedroom window

Dr Hepworth said: "We now stay at the back of the flat to avoid the noise. It's oppressive. They are right outside my daughter's bedroom window and the room my wife works from home in. We've already got waste spilling out onto the street too. It's a mess.

"They could easily move bins 15 metres to outside shops, where they've been for the past 20 years and have not caused a nuisance but we've been told 'the rules are the rules'. I'm horrified by what me and my neighbours have had to go through and I'm not going to put up with it."

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After writing to the council for months ahead of the proposed bin hub and raising it with a local councillor who lives on the street, he claims bins due to be placed outside the councillor's home were then moved to the end of the street, a few metres away.

The dad-of-one is now considering launching a legal challenge, along with other fed-up locals.

It comes amid a backlash over the scheme, as a petition launched has gathered more than 600 signatures. Residents behind the petition have also formed an independent committee to push the council to scrap bin hubs which they say are 'excessive, ugly and a terrible decision for the people of Edinburgh to have to suffer.'

Calls for a review of the criteria for locations of the hubs were rejected by the council in March, after councillors claimed residents were 'distraught and angry' over the 'inflexible' stance on the hubs.

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Dr Hepworth said: "The scheme for relocating bins following requests from residents is illogical and blatantly unfair.  My neighbour managed to have the bins outside his flat moved to the end of the street.  We asked for ours to be moved outside a shop along the street but were refused.  The only apparent difference is that he's a city councillor. The original plan for the hub show bins were due to be placed outside the councillor's house.

"We got a faceless response saying they couldn't be moved because it would transfer the 'perceived impact' to another property. The impact is not perceived. It's very real and upsetting for those of us living with it day in day out."

Responding to the claims, Councillor Cowdie told the Evening News he had represented residents in his Ward over the issue, but denied a bin hub was planned for outside his home. He said he wasn't aware that any bin hubs have been moved from in front of a councillor’s home.

After seeking legal advice Dr Hepworth believes the council could also be in breach of environmental protection laws. He added: "The noise levels created by the bins and glass recycling in particular exceeds the level of a statutory public nuisance - affecting health through noise pollution.

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"The council should have undertaken an environmental impact assessment ahead of the scheme. This would have forced them to look at alternatives for waste minimisation and reduction before such as bottle return schemes and reducing packaging waste. They can't just disregard the noise and pollution and let residents suffer. By law they have a duty of care yet they are knowingly putting bins where they pose a health and safety risk."

After months of 'getting nowhere' Dr Hepworth is now demanding a meeting with the transport committee.

He added: "They need to be held to account for imposing misery on hundreds of residents who now have noisy, stinky and overflowing bins in front of their doors and windows.  This has been bungled from day one and we need straight answers to our concerns."

Edinburgh council said it has been in contact with Dr Hepworth to address his concerns and said he had previously been advised that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not required to be carried out due to the nature, size and location of the bins, in keeping with the procedural requirements in the regulations.

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Cllr Scott Arthur, environment convener, said: “Our city-wide communal bin review project is grouping together recycling and waste bins to improve recycling provision and waste collection reliability for around 130,000 of our residents.

“The first phase of the project has been a great success and has led to a massive drop (85 per cent) in the number of overflowing mixed recycling bin reports to the council.

“For cases like these, we have a review framework, approved by committee last May. This allows us to be as flexible as possible and fair to all residents. Using the framework we investigate all requests for alternative locations for bin hubs and where we can accommodate these we will.”

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