THOUSANDS of people have aired their views on controversial proposals to introduce wheelie bins in the New Forest.

A draft refuse collection strategy has been drawn up by New Forest District Council (NFDC), which says action is needed to reduce waste and increase recycling rates.

A public consultation was carried out between November 12 and December 20.

The council says a total of 3,786 comments were submitted by organisations and individuals.

Cllr Alison Hoare, portfolio holder for environment, said: “We’ve been pleased to see so much useful discussion in our public engagement around our draft waste strategy, which looks at the changes we can make to reduce waste and increase recycling in the district.

“Thank you to everyone who has given us their views.

“The responses are being analysed by an independent research company and we will report back on the findings later in the new year.

“The feedback you’ve given will help us shape a waste strategy that works for the local area and our environment.”

If the proposed new strategy is approved more than 90% of homes could see plastic refuse sacks replaced by wheelie bins.

General rubbish and items capable of being recycled will be collected on alternate weeks.The council is also planning to introduce a separate food waste collection service to comply with proposed new laws.

The proposed introduction of wheelie bins has been criticised by town and parish council across the Forest.

In a letter to NFDC Fordingbridge Town Council said: “They are not an attractive addition in any area. In fact, they are an eyesore.

“People who use a walking aid would not manage the bins, and so they would permanently be left in the front garden.

“This is not a good look and may also highlight that a vulnerable person lives there.

“Many properties, especially in the town centre, have insufficient storage space for wheeled bins, and others have no side access meaning residents may struggle to get the bin to the front of the property.

“Pavements in some parts of the town are not even wide enough for day-to-day use, without adding bins into the mix.

“If wheelie bins are used, even where they can be put away they will often be on the street for 24 hours. For instance, residents who are out at work cannot retrieve them until the end of the day.”

The plan was also criticised at a meeting of Milford Parish Council.

Chairman Bob Bishop said wheelie bins could cause problems for people in flats and properties with doors which opened on to the pavement.