Mid and East Antrim triple stack bin rethink urged after funding setback

The proposed roll-out of triple stack bins across Mid and East Antrim will not be fully funded by Stormont, councillors have been told.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 5:29 pm

Speaking at this month’s meeting of the borough council, DUP Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston said that Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister Edwin Poots indicated recently that the new waste collection system is likely to receive funding of just 50 per cent from Stormont.

Cllr Johnston said that the local authority will now have to take advice on how to take a “phased and varied approach” to waste disposal in the borough.

The council has been considering replacing blue recycling bins in Larne and kerbside boxes in Carrickfergus and Ballymena with a uniform triple stack system in all three areas.

Waste strategy review

Waste management remains one of the highest revenue spends for the local authority at a cost of £9m annually.  Households would also be supplied with a smaller 180 litre black bin although existing brown bins will still be used.

The council understood that full funding of the £4.2m cost would be available from DAERA. Now councillors have urged a rethink of the controversial plan which has provoked outrage among householders.

More than 1,300 people, mainly in the Larne area, have signed an online petition urging a rethink on the triple stack bins. Click here

Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston urged the council to relook at the issue and consider rolling out blue recycling bins across the three areas of the borough instead.

“I think that is what the public want. I think it is what the public will buy into.  It is not cost effective if it is only 50 per cent funding.”

Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Donnelly asked if it “counted as official notice” that DAERA will only be funding 50 per cent of the new triple stack bins.

“We need to be moving forward with the scheme that will increase recycling and make it easier for people in the area to recycle.”

The Mayor replied: “My understanding is that we are still waiting for that in writing.”

Larne Lough DUP Cllr Gregg McKeen commented: “We need to look at our strategy and how we move forward rather than making proposals here tonight. I think we should be re-looking at it and have another couple of workshops to see the best way forward.

“Having lived in Larne and used the blue bins, I understand the simplicity and ease of use of those by residents and as a potential way forward but I think we need to look across the borough because I know in Carrickfergus and Ballymena, there are issues with their current processes and the way that is being collected, the issues with the boxes blowing all over the place and lids and so forth.

“I think we need to work here on a borough-wide strategy to see what’s the best fit for residents and use this now as a new opportunity to try and find a process that suits everybody.”

Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Robert Logan said: “The blue bin is very easy for the people in Larne. They just throw the stuff into it. Unfortunately, the blue bins cost the council money because the value of the waste in it is not as great as the value of waste in the kerbie boxes.

“The kerbie boxes that we are proposing are no longer kerbie boxes. They are trolley boxes They are locked into a trolley. They don’t blow about. The top lid has a lock on it and they are lifted every week whereas the blue bin is only lifted once a fortnight.

“The people in Larne don’t realise they are going from a situation where the blue bin is only lifted every fortnight to a situation where the boxes are lifted every week, so it’s a whole different ball game.

“As I have a trolley which I was given some years ago to try out, I can assure you it is a much better sytem than the blue bin,”

The mayor joked that you “end up being the envy of the street”, adding that “everybody wants one”.

Carrickfergus DUP Alderman Billy Ashe MBE suggested now is the time to re-look at reducing the 240 litre black bin and reverse the plan to reduce it to 180 litres.

“I think it is unfair on families and particularly on families with young children and I think that should be looked at again.”

Bannside DUP councillor Ald Tommy Nicholl MBE said wheelie bins were introduced in Ballymena in 1983.

“We led the way. We had a visionary approach and had the same with the triple stack when we brought that in.

“Now it is not the quantity of the items we are talking about. It is the actual quality of it. The people who work with it are saying that there is more quality in the recycling items because of the introduction of the triple stack.

“I would have thought it is a no-brainer that we bring in the triple stack. I want to see the whole borough benefit from good decision-making. I believe this would be good decision-making by introducing the triple stack.”

Deputy Mayor Ulster Unionist Cllr Andrew Wilson noted the council has been bidding for 100 per cent funding.

Commenting on the potential reduction to 50 per cent funding, he stated: “I think it is regrettable if that is the line we are going down. The situation we are in is regrettable but needs to be further discussion on the matter.”

The Mayor indicated that the issue will be brought back to a future meeting.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.

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