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Council to bin plans for separate food waste collection in Armagh City & District

A separate waste collection for food across Armagh City and District is not expected to go ahead – despite an offer of funding to help see it through.

And the introduction of ‘stacking boxes’ in the old Armagh Council area will not go ahead either.

Instead, the new Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area is to submit an application for funding of almost £230,000 to buy capital items as it aims to reduce waste.bin collection

Three projects had gone forward and tomorrow night (Tuesday), the council’s environmental services committee will consider recommendations.

The Department of the Environment Rethink Waste Capital Fund was launched in 2010 for projects that reduce household waste and local authority collected municipal waste, add to existing recycling provision, and fit with the strategic aims of the council and follow a ‘good practice’ approach.

All projects must have a firm budgetary commitment from the Council to meet the ongoing revenue costs of delivering the service in the medium to long term – which essentially is a minimum of three years.

Three applications had been made to the DoE Rethink Waste Capital Fund and it is the first which it is recommended council proceeds with.

It is for improvements and upgrades to the council’s household waste and recycling centres across Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, which are experiencing increased demand due to the amalgamation of the three councils, with customers now free to use any they choose within the borough.

A funding application of £227,000 – the total capital cost – has been prepared for the Department of Environment Rethink Waste Fund to buy equipment to help increase recycling rates, improve the capacity of the sites, as well as reduce waste being sent to landfill.

The second of the three projects was for the introduction of a commercial food waste collection – and for a weekly source separated household food waste collection across the whole of the former Armagh City and District Council area.

The old council area largely operates on both a brown and black bin scheme at present.

But the former Armagh Council last year made a bid for waste collections for food from homes and businesses in the Armagh area.

And it was only last month that the application, in principle, was recommended for funding – subject to a contract being agreed and signed with WRAP.

An offer for 80 per cent funding for the project was made – up to £149,028.50 – with Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council having to provide £36,760.

Although the project has been offered funding, councillors have been told that the “tight timeframe” opens the council to risk of not complying with DoE deadlines. And officers feel this may not be the most appropriate time to develop another model for collection, when councillors and staff are trying to harmonise services across the borough.

The initial application was made some time ago by the legacy Armagh Council.

Officers in the new council would need to engage fully with the various partners to be certain that the economics of the project did not leave it vulnerable to increased budget pressures.

As the application has been accepted by the Department, it can remain ‘on their books’ to be drawn down if councillors wish to do so in the future, depending on DoE funding being available.

The project, it has been recommended, can be discussed in the context of the waste strategy going forward.

The third project was for the introduction of stacking boxes for recycling to all residents in the former Armagh Council area, for which the old council had also submitted an application last year.

To date no letter of offer for this project has been received, as the DOE financial scrutiny process has identified concerns about the ongoing impact of the scheme, given that the waste management strategy for the new borough has not been finalised.

But the application will be ‘filed for review’ in the future if councillors wish to proceed down that road after the strategy has been finalised.

The recommendations go to council committee tomorrow evening and will be subject to ratification at the full monthly meeting before Christmas.

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