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  • Francis Galashan

Communal bin review - heritage impact assessment



RRCTMA-supported study concludes that since negative effects on heritage assets which are significant in Environmental Impact Assessment terms are anticipated, there should be a presumption against the installation of communal bin hubs within the Old Town Conservation Area, New Town Conservation Area, and Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site


A new report shows Edinburgh’s heritage is at risk from the Council's decision to impose hundreds of permanent bin hubs across the World Heritage Site.

The decision by Edinburgh Council to impose hundreds of communal bin hubs across the city centre will have a significant adverse impact on the outstanding universal value (OUV) of the World Heritage Site (WHS), according to a new and independent report.

The Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) by Simpson & Brown was commissioned by the NTBCC with the financial backing of RRCTMA in response to the Council’s decision to place several hundred communal bins in hubs every 100 metres along streets across Edinburgh. Each bin hub is set to be 7 metres long. The assessment examined the potential effects of the Council’s decision across the Old and New Town World Heritage Site.

The report was commissioned after the Council refused to conduct its own Impact Assessment and failed to consult any heritage organisations, resident groups or the public before taking its decision. The study’s key findings are:

  • The introduction of bin hubs would have a significant effect on the New Town and Old Town conservation areas, and on the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.

  • There would be a negative effect on Edinburgh Key Views, which are required to be protected under Council planning policy.

  • The mitigation currently proposed by the Council is not judged to be effective, as it focuses on superficial aspects of the hubs such as bin lid colour.

  • There is a risk both to the character and appearance of the conservation areas, and to the OUV of the World Heritage Site, if communal bin hubs were to be installed.

The report also states that its findings contradicted the decision taken by the Council that an impact assessment was not necessary. According to the guidance produced by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), wherever a significant effect is anticipated, an impact assessment should be carried out.

The review concluded: “Overall, this report comes to the conclusion that since negative effects on heritage assets which are significant in EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] terms are anticipated, there should be a presumption against the installation of communal bin hubs within the Old Town Conservation Area, New Town Conservation Area, and Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site.”

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