Edinburgh’s bulky items uplifts will be free - but not yet

The special uplift service for bulky items that cannot be placed in the normal waste bins
The special uplift service for bulky items that cannot be placed in the normal waste bins
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COUNCIL leader Adam McVey has insisted the SNP-Labour coalition is not abandoning its pledge to bring back free special uplifts – despite planning to stick with the current £5-per-item charge.

A report found fly-tipping across the Capital had fallen since the council moved from a flat fee of £26 for up to six bulky items to the £5 rate.

The council is now planning a limited pilot study with the charity sector collecting bulky waste in a bid to divert more of them for re-use.

And officials have recommended that further changes to the pricing structure be 
postponed “to avoid undermining this pilot”.

A commitment to abolish charges for special uplifts was in the coalition deal signed by the SNP and Labour after last year’s council elections.

Councillor McVey said: “It’s still there, it’s still a pledge. The programme is a five-year one. Not everything will be delivered in the first year.”

He said it looked as if the lower charge for special uplifts, introduced in January 2017, had reduced fly-tipping but more time was needed to measure the effectiveness of the changes.

The report to the transport and environment committee said although incidents of fly-tipping were down it was difficult to know the impact of the price cut because it coincided with other measures to tackle the problem.

Demand for uplifts increased by 120 per cent, but the number of items by only 26 per cent and the report estimated 80 per cent of items would still have been uplifted previously.

There was also an extra vehicle and crew allocated to the service, increasing the cost of delivery by £90,000.

Tory environment spokesman Nick Cook said: “While the council’s special uplift service has delivered some positives, it is concerning the new pricing strategy is costing substantially more to deliver. If the council is serious about the service being delivered by the third sector, it must take bigger strides to make this a reality, rather than float the idea of a free-to-use council giveaway that could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

Green environment spokesman Steve Burgess welcomed the pilot study. “Re-use is far better than dumping it in 
landfill. Anything we can do it help improve re-use is important.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang said: “The administration is really at sixes and sevens when it comes to waste collection. It seems to have no clear plan to deliver on its promise to introduce free special uplifts. Meanwhile, it is pressing ahead with a new garden waste tax, a policy which was completely absent from last year’s SNP and Labour manifestos and overwhelmingly opposed by residents in the recent budget consultation.”