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Wheelie bin claims rubbished

PUBLISHED: 09:38 08 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:58 30 June 2010

Councils across the region have rebutted fresh claims by privacy campaigners that the installation of microchips in wheelie bins is the first step to introducing “pay as you throw” rubbish charges.

Councils across the region have rebutted fresh claims by privacy campaigners that the installation of microchips in wheelie bins is the first step to introducing “pay as you throw” rubbish charges.

The Big Brother Watch group says it latest survey found a significant upsurge in UK authorities with the technology at its disposal - 68 compared to 42 last year - with chips in 2.6m bins.

The furore has been sparked by a proposal in Bristol to reward people who cut waste, the council applying to the government to become the first to trial a scheme which would pay residents according to how much they reduce refuse not sent for recycling.

The campaigners, who are funded by the Taxpayers' Alliance, say there is a danger other authorities could use the technology to impose charges on those who throw away most, a controversial proposal first raised by former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2007.

Big Brother Watch director Alex Deane said: “If local authorities have no intention to monitor our waste then they should end the surreptitious installation of these bin microchips.”

However, all three Norfolk authorities with microchips installed in their bins rubbished his suggestion that “punitive taxes” were being planned.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said his authority had been part of a national pilot to test the twin bin system with the government paying for the bins and microchip technology.

The original aim of weighing the bins had been to help manage refuse rounds, never to bring in charges.

He said the technology and data had proved unreliable and as soon as the spectre of “pay as you throw” was raised in 2007 they had switched off the equipment.

North Norfolk Council's communication manager Peter Battrick said they had bought their bins with microchips already installed as a financial safeguard. For if the government had later insisted on it, it would have been far more costly to have them installed at a later date.

He said: “We can't use them because lorries need special computers and weighing machines on board which we have no intention of installing.”

Anna Wade, a spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, confirmed their bins had microchips that were used to weigh bins for abnormalities.

However, she said they had no recording facilities to tie the information to individual addresses and no plan to bring in such technology.

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