GREEN waste collections are set to be limited to four bags per household per fortnight in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year when thousands of green bags were left piled up on the streets.

But there are still issues about how the restriction will work when it comes into force in April, with Swindon Council saying there is a risk of increased flytipping of garden waste, which will only be removed where it poses an immediate risk to the environment or it is an obstruction.

In September, Coun Fion-uala Foley, cabinet member for Streetsmart and corporate services, apologised to the public after contractor Swindon Commercial Services Ltd struggled to clear a week-long backlog, which filled up its storage capacity at Waterside Park and an off-site storage facility.

The council said there had been a massive increase in the volume of garden waste needing collecting last summer, due to ideal growing conditions and a householders using the kerbside service rather than taking sacks to the Household Recycling Centre.

Tomorrow, cabinet will be asked to approve a new restriction, meaning only four bags of 90 litres maximum can be presented, with householders having to take any surplus to the House-hold Recycling Centre.

Coun Foley said four bags was sufficient for most households, and the alternative of increasing the service from four to nine rounds throughout the year would solve the problem.

But it would mean half-empty vehicles most of the year and almost double the annual costs to about £1.4m at a time the council is trying to make savings.

She said the council could not predict the periods of high demand, because it depended on the weather, so bringing in extra staff and vehicles for these periods would not produce a reliable service.

“If people think they can pile up more bags, the bags will stay there. In the main we believe four bags a fortnight is easily enough for green bags,” she said.

“It’s only when you are doing your pruning or digging out something you will have to have more than four bags, or where you have an especially large garden, in which case we hope people will look at composting.”

She admitted there might be difficulties in telling which bags were linked to which house, adding: “There will be a leaflet campaign going to houses and we’re hoping people will be responsible. We accept it’s not going to be easy.”

Coun Dave Wood (Lib Dem, Eastcott) said: “On many streets, residents leave green bags on verges or on piles, so it’s unclear which bags belong to which house.

“The inevitable result will be piles of legitimate but uncollected green bags.”

He added: "When caps were introduced in general waste this was managed by the council issuing a set number of blue bags in some areas, and wheelie bins in other areas.

“Residents providing their own green bags will allow anyone to drop their green bags outside anyone else’s house to ensure collection.

“The council's report says this is likely to cause an increase in fly-tipping, but also says that fly-tipping that is not unsafe or unhealthy is not a council priority.

“This means dumped green waste can expect to stay there indefinitely in some cases.”