Blaenau Gwent's £100 fine if food waste is found in bin

People are facing fines of £100 under new council rules for putting food scraps in general rubbish wheelie bins.

Blaenau Gwent Council said it was a response to plans by the Welsh Assembly Government to fine local authorities for not meeting recycling targets.

Officials said if householders misused their bin four times they would be fined, and it would not be collected.

The Welsh Local Government Association was unaware of other Welsh councils imposing fines specific to food waste.

Fines for residents who break the rules on rubbish collections in England are expected to be scrapped.

At the moment, people in England can be fined with a fixed-penalty notice if they repeatedly break the rules covering rubbish collections, such as recycling incorrectly or leaving waste out on the wrong day.

But the UK government is expected to remove most of the powers from English town halls, following a promise last year to scrap them.

Blaenau Gwent Council hopes to introduce its new scheme this summer and will be sending letters to residents.

The local authority said it was an attempt to "step up recycling in the county borough and avoid hefty fines from Europe".

Blaenau Gwent currently recycles about 35% of its waste, but this needs to increase to 52% by 2013 if the council is to avoid the fines "which could run into millions of pounds".

In a statement, the council said: "If a household misuses their bin on a total of four occasions a fixed penalty notice will be issued and the bin will not be collected.

"During the first, second and third breaches warning stickers will be placed on the bins and photographic evidence will be collected.

"Letters are being sent out to all households informing them of the new scheme and specifying a start date - expected to be this summer."

The scheme will be managed by council wardens and a waste enforcement officer.

'More needs to be done'

Councillor Keith Barnes, who is responsible for the environment in Blaenau Gwent, said: "We need to get across to people exactly what it means for this council and Blaenau Gwent if we do not meet the recycling targets set by the Welsh Assembly Government - it could mean fines of millions.

"We have worked hard to increase recycling rates and we have improved, but more needs to be done. I believe our recycling schemes are easy for people to use and we have our waste advisory wardens on hand to answer any queries or help with any problems."

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said it was unaware of other councils in Wales imposing fines specifically relating to food waste.

It added that Blaenau Gwent Council had the power to fine people under the Environment Protection Act.

The WLGA said fixed penalty notices have not been used on a routine basis but were issued in some cases when residents continually fail to abide by waste collection requirements after warnings.

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