Edinburgh New Town residents claim heritage bodies excluded from any say on plans for 'ugly' communal bins on Georgian streets
Residents fighting plans to install communal bin hubs in some of Edinburgh's most historic streets claim the council has chosen a procedure which will exclude key heritage watchdogs from any consultation.
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Several streets in the New Town currently have gull-proof sacks and recycling boxes for their waste rather than the large communal bins used in most tenemented areas of the city.
But councillors voted earlier this year to scrap the separate arrangement and include these streets in a city-wide move to bin hubs in a bid to encourage more recycling.
Residents argue the communal bins are “ugly and intrusive” and will be a permanent scar on the Georgian streetscape of the New Town, part of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site.
They complain there was no consultation ahead of the decision and say the council is now seeking to implement the new scheme by using Traffic Regulation Orders which means bodies like Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) and Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will not be consulted and even residents will find it hard to object because they can only do so on grounds of traffic management or road safety.
Mike Birch, transport convener for the New Town and Broughton community council, said if the council had taken the proposals through the planning process it would have had to consult EWH and HES and show the changes were not going to have any adverse effect on the World Heritage Site or damage the conservation area.
He said before bins were rolled out in other parts of the World Heritage Site there had been consultation with local residents and heritage bodies. "Although they didn’t go through planning process they still saw the need to involve those bodies in the decision making.”
But he said there was no sign of a similar approach this time.
Mr Birch said the council should also have carried out an environmental impact analysis and a heritage impact analysis to look at the effect of the bin proposals.
Community council chair Carol Nimmo said there was no need to change the current arrangements.
She said: “The gull-proof sacks and the recycling boxes for these streets work a treat – if it ain't broke why fix it? It's a fantastic system, it's comparatively cheap as these things go. As a system for waste management in a world heritage site I think it's best in class. Apparently Bath copied us and lots of central London with Georgian streets also use gull proof sacks.”
She said it was easy for people to accuse the residents of nimbyism and not wanting what everyone else had. But she said: “This isn’t our back yard, this is Edinburgh's front street. If it has world heritage status and classification I think we're right to say they should consider different alternatives to other parts of the city.”
She said the bins would dramatically change the appearance of the much-photographed streets. “They will never look the same again.”
Environment vice-convener Karen Doran defended the bin hub plans.
“We are confident we can introduce a more modern and fit-for-purpose waste and recycling service that does not undermine the character of the area but also increases the amount of waste that we recycle.
“Our proposals will be submitted to planning and they’ll decide if a full Environmental Impact Assessment is required.”