Highland Council to bring in annual charge for brown bins


A local authority is to introduce a new charge for emptying bins used for recycling garden waste.

Highland Council is to start charging the £30 annual fee from 1 July for the brown wheelie bins, which are emptied fortnightly from spring to late autumn.

About 67,000 households have the bins. They are provided in the Highlands' larger centres of population but not Skye, Sutherland and most of Lochaber.

The charge has been opposed by an online campaign and petition.

Its organisers said it would lead to fly tipping and would discriminate against low income households because it is charged in addition to council tax.

The online Petition Against The £30 Charge For Collecting Brown Bins has about 120 signatures so far.

Lifting the lid on the brown bin

  • Highland Council's brown-coloured bins are for recycling "green waste" - grass cuttings, hedge trimmings, leaves, twigs and small branches, flowers and other plants and weeds
  • The fortnightly collections are made from about the start of spring to late autumn. The bins are not emptied in winter
  • Not everyone in the Highlands has a brown bin. The service is provided to about 67,000 households in mostly larger centres of population, such as Inverness
  • Households in larger centres of population also have a green bin for general waste, a blue one for recycling paper, cardboard and certain types of plastic and two smaller grey bins for food waste - one designed to fit in spaces under kitchen sinks and other to empty that bin into and then leave on the street for collection. All these bins are emptied fortnightly

Last month, Highland councillors voted unanimously in favour of the £30 annual fee as part of setting the local authority's new budget, and as a way of helping to narrow a £20m gap in funding.

Not everyone in the Highland area, which has a population of about 233,000 people, has a brown bin.

Sutherland and Skye have no green waste collections at all and in Lochaber only residents of Fort William get the service. Other rural areas of the region also do not get the bin collections.

Allan Henderson, chairman of the council's community services committee, said the bins were originally introduced as part of a Scotland-wide initiative to reduce waste going to landfill sites.

While this had been successful, he said the bins have been a "divisive issue" in the Highlands because heavily populated areas were more likely to receive the service and rural areas do not.

Mr Henderson said: "On consulting the public, as the council needs to move towards being more commercial, it was made clear that all householders should be given an option, but with a small charge for the service.

"On budget day this was agreed right across the chamber."

Kate Forbes, SNP MSP Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said she was aware of concerns about the new annual charge.

She said: "I think we have to be really careful because this could undermine efforts to reduce landfill and potentially increase fly tipping.

"This is firmly and squarely a decision by Highland Council, not the Scottish government - and it isn't the local MSP's responsibility to interfere with that.

"However, I do think households are paying enough for local services with council tax rising 3% for every band, and even more for the bands E, F, G and H."

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