PEOPLE living in the New Forest are being urged to comment on proposals that could result in 92% of homes being supplied with wheelie bins.

A four-week public consultation has been launched by the district council, which is planning to replace the current refuse collection system in a bid to boost recycling rates.

If the scheme goes ahead general rubbish and items capable of being recycled will be collected on alternate weeks.

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The authority is also planning to introduce a separate food waste collection service to comply with new laws likely to be introduced in the next few years.

Cllr Alison Hoare, cabinet member for environment, said: "We are asking the public to read our proposals and answer our resident engagement survey.

"We want to know what barriers residents think there are to introducing this new service so that we can shape the system to work well for the area.

"We understand that change can be difficult so we want to hear how we can get this right for our communities.

“And we want to hear from people who are keen to see recycling rates increase and have comments that are in support of change.

"Although the ‘headline’ is wheelie bins, there’s so much more to it. This could never be a simple yes or no to wheelie bins - the bins are just the how, the why is the important part.

"Our overall aim in this is to care for the environment.”

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Under the current system residents put general waste in black bags and recyclables in clear plastic sacks, both of which are collected weekly.

Householders can also ask for reusable bags for garden waste and a large plastic box for glass bottles.

Critics claim many homes in the Forest lack sufficient storage space for wheelie bins but a report says 92% of properties would be suitable. Alternative systems would be provided for other households but no details have been released.

Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, has described the proposals as a "done deal".

Referring to the ruling Tory group he said: "They are giving every indication that there won’t be a choice in the matter. The wheelie bins are going to be imposed whether local people think it is a good thing or not."