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Tory trash talk fails to halt bin bugging plans

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The UK government has green-lighted microchip wheelie bin pilot schemes despite one council calling for the technology to be scrapped because it “failed to work” under test conditions.

In 2002 Tory-controlled South Norfolk Council was the first in England to use the microchipped bins, which have been designed to allow specially equipped refuse lorries to weigh the amount each household recycles and throws away.

But local authority officials at the council said that the technology was simply not "robust enough to cope" and blamed electrical, mechanical, data and hydraulic faults that forced them to scrap the initiative last autumn.

"A system that sounded good on paper in London failed to work at 7.30am on a cold and wet Monday in December in South Norfolk. It was time to bin the technology," said Council leader John Fuller, according to the Press Association.

The council said it dropped the scheme in September 2007 after a new administration took control on a manifesto commitment not to introduce the government's "pay-as-you-throw" scheme, using the microchip tech in bins.

It funded the initiative using more than £1m of government grants to buy refuse lorries and bins that came fitted with the microchips.

However, a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman today defended the government’s decision give the scheme the go-ahead, and added that the South Norfolk council had not been part of any gov-backed pilot scheme.

"They were given Government grants to expand their recycling service and they choose with their own free will how to use it," a Defra spokeswoman said, reports the PA.

Defra denied that the council decision would disrupt the government's controversial "pay-as-you-throw" bin levy plan.

"If something doesn't work for a local authority, we think it's right for them to drop it. Systems don't work equally everywhere. They wanted to try it and they decided to stop it. That's their decision."

She said: "We haven't even passed the legislation to enable pilots to take place. The earliest pilots will start is April next year, after legislation is passed and authorities are asked to come forward."

If the scheme does get the thumbs up from Parliament five areas will be lined up to test drive the microchipped bins early next year.

South Norfolk council's grumbles about the technology can be viewed in full here. ®

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