LOCAL people could have their bin collections cut off while anyone using any of the municipal dumps anywhere in the borough will be quizzed and watched to check what they’re throwing out.

    Those are just two parts of the tough new rubbish regime planned by Ards and North Down Council in a massive crackdown that’s due to come into force next month, as the local authority tries to tackle its two-year recycling crisis.

    Since the crisis first hit in summer 2020, this area has plummeted from being one of the best performing districts in Northern Ireland to one of the worst. Landfill taxes set the council back almost £5m last year – and officials think that the bill will come close to £6m this year. They add that the extra £1m in landfill taxes will happen if, and only if, the crisis stays at its current level. If it gets any worse, the bill will be even higher.

    As a result officials want to bring in a tough crackdown on the waste system all across Ards and North Down, in a bid to bring galloping landfill levels under control. The crackdown was due to be debated at a council committee that got under way shortly Iain Gray after this newspaper went to press last night.

    However local authority documents obtained by the Spectator show that strict checks and tough penalties will be enforced by council employees under the new crackdown. Describing the recycling crisis as a ‘worrying trend over a now prolonged period of declining recycling rates and increased landfill’, council officials state that Ards and North Down buried over 40,000 tons of waste last year at a cost of £4.8m in landfill taxes.

    Due to spiralling inflation as part of the cost of living crisis, however, those taxes are going to shoot up, leading officials to predict that burying the same amount of waste this year would set the council back £5.8m.

    Combined with much more stringent government targets on recycling that are due to come into force over the next few years, officials argue that the council has no choice but to crackdown on both bin collections and the public’s use of Household Recycling Centres to bring the crisis under control.

    According to the documents seen by this newspaper, the rules in question have already been agreed in principle by councillors when setting up and tweaking the borough’s waste system over the past few years. But they will now be enforced in a vastly tougher and more strict manner, with what officials describe as ‘a much more structured, continuous and consistent application during the course of routine service delivery’.