Bins plan for Edinburgh's New Town: assurances sought as council approves contract for bin hubs

Opponents of plans for communal bin hubs in Edinburgh’s historic New Town are demanding assurances that a £1.6 million contract about to be approved will not commit the city council to going ahead with the scheme before a promised consultation is completed.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:55 am

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The contract is for installation of the hubs – which will corral together multiple bins for recycling and residual waste – in 1,750 locations across the city, including Leith, Leith Walk, Gorgie, Fountainbridge, Portobello, Colinton, Morningside Stockbridge and the Southside as well as the city centre.

Residents in the New Town have threatened legal action over the hubs, which they say would be a permanent scar on the streetscape of Edinburgh' s World Heritage Site.

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Residents want to keep the gull-proof sacks instead

They claim the current system of gull-proof sacks works well and has minimal impact on the appearance of the streets.

A report to Thursday’s finance committee says: “The approach to be taken in the World Heritage Site will be subject to a further options appraisal, which will include consultation with Edinburgh World Heritage and engagement with residents.”

City Centre councillor Joanna Mowat said approving the contract before the consultation was putting the cart before the horse.

"The contract should be flexible enough that if you have not carried out the consultation you can decide against putting any corrals on the street in the World Heritage Site.”

An impression of how the bin hubs could look in a New Town street

She said other parts of the New Town already had communal bins. “The bins there are messy, unattractive and not very well kept. I know the council say if we had more bins it would all get better but I'm not sure I want to take that risk.”

And Tory group leader Iain Whyte, who represents Stockbridge, said: “Even if they want to push ahead with the contract they should make it clear we might not buy them if the residents are totally against them or they find they have to change the system because of what the residents say. Otherwise you're in danger of wasting a whole lot of taxpayers’ money.

"In Stockbridge it’s absolutely clear the residents associations are very upset about this proposal. They want to keep their gull-proof sacks and unless the council can show me they have properly consulted the residents and gained their approval I'll be supporting the residents' view that they should retain a system that was put in especially to make sure the refuse collection fitted in with the nature of the World Heritage Site and we didn't have large unsightly bins permanently sitting all over the place.”

Carol Nimmo, of New Town and Broughton community council, said Bath had copied Edinburgh’s example on gull-proof sacks. “Why would Edinburgh wan to tarnish its reputation as such a leader in world heritage?"

Green City Centre councillor Claire Miller said she was putting a motion to next week’s environment committee, urging support for residents to embrace zero waste.

She said: “Our world heritage status is important to us, so I’m helping residents reduce and eliminate waste, because then we will need smaller and fewer bins. Local share-and-reuse networks online are a great way to give away things we don’t need any more, re-fill shops for groceries are popping up all across the city centre, and organisations like Shrub Co-op and the Remakery are teaching people to repair and upcycle.”

Environment convener Lesley Macinnes said: “The decision to change the way waste is collected in some locations in the New Town, as well as many other communities across the city, has been taken by committee to make recycling easier and more accessible.

"This also supports our vital targets to increase the city’s recycling performance and meet our ambitious zero waste goals. In addition the hubs provide increased capacity, a more reliable service and reduces overflowing bins and street clutter, as well as making our waste and recycling operations safer for our staff.

“We are committed to engaging with residents and we are working with EWH on the size, colour and location of the bins and how we secure them so they can’t be moved out of place and to make sure they are in-keeping with the character of the World Heritage Site.

“The next step will be a series of drop-in engagement sessions in October and November to allow residents to feedback directly to the proposals we draw up. Further details on these meetings will be advertised on our website.”

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Edinburgh World Heritage says communal bins hub plan 'threatens visual integrity...

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