WHEELIE bins could be introduced in the New Forest after years of debate about the future of the area's refuse services.

The district council is looking at ways to improve waste and recycling collections in the district and may decide to follow the example of other local authorities across Hampshire.

Wheelie bins and weekly food waste collections are among the proposals under discussion.

Salisbury Journal:

Changes to the existing service could also include a wider range of materials being collected for recycling, such as plastic pots, tubs and trays.

District councillors say the proposals could help the authority achieve a cost and carbon-efficient service, minimise the amount of waste and improve the quantity and quality of recycling.

Cllr Alison Hoare is the cabinet member for environment.

She said: “Wheelie bins are part of a wider approach being considered so we can meet a legal requirement to offer food waste collections, and increase our recycling rate.

“We know that roughly 90% of all local authorities in England now collect waste in wheeled bins and we can learn a lot from the work they have already done.

"A project team have been looking at what sort of waste and recycling system would be best for the area for nearly two years, including looking at systems already known to work well, and the public feedback from our survey in January 2020.

“There’s a lot of work still to do to get this right, including asking our residents for comments on what we plan, and making sure there is somewhere appropriate to send the food waste for recycling.

Salisbury Journal: File photo dated 05/08/2008 of a general view of recycling wheelie bins in Harrow, Middlesex..File photo dated 05/08/2008 of a general view of recycling wheelie bins in Harrow, Middlesex..

"Any changes won’t come in until 2022 at the earliest.

“We are keen to hear from residents so we can take their views into consideration as we look at how a new system could work. But waste minimisation sits at the heart of all of this and there is no question that change must happen.”

The proposals are due to be discussed by the council's ruling cabinet on November 4.

If the changes are supported council officers will continue to assess what exact system would be the best solution for the New Forest. The draft waste strategy will be open for public comments between November 12 and December 10.

The Conservative-controlled council used to be run by the Liberal Democrats.

Writing on social media the Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr David Harrison, said: "Previously, Conservatives campaigned against the council introducing wheelie bins, even wrongly accusing the Liberal Democrats of trying to do so - so this represents another very big U-turn.

"Of all the issues in the New Forest, I think public opinion on the use of wheelie bins is very divided.

"I think the Conservatives wanted to keep these plans hidden until after the county council elections in May, because they fear it is an unpopular move. However, they are being forced into it by Conservative government policy.

"As an opposition councillor, all I can do is warn people about what's going to happen.

"I don't support wheelie bins being imposed upon the area, although it is fair to point out that our district council has a very poor recycling record.

"We only re-cycle about half the household waste of best performing authorities.

"There will be some areas where wheelie bins cannot be used so I expect (like Test Valley) they will adopt a few exception streets where a different waste collection method is employed."