THOUSANDS of Oxford residents will see a return to weekly waste collections with food waste collected from April.

A scheme to collect food and green waste from more 6,500 properties in the city is expected to be agreed by the city council's executive on Monday.

The pilot scheme is expected to cost more than £160,000 and will be focused primarily on homes east of Magdalen Bridge.

Faced with continued anger over the introduction of fortnightly waste collections, Oxford City Council says it wants to move ahead with kitchen waste ahead of the rest of the county.

With a food treatment plant not likely to be built before April 2009, more than ten per cent of Oxford's residents will benefit from a scheme a year early.

But it will mean large quantities of waste having to be carried by road, probably to a plant in Bedfordshire.

The city council says it wants to see how kitchen waste collections work across different parts of the city, in properties of different sizes.

Jean Fooks, the city councillor at the centre of the controversy over fortnightly collections, made clear the move was in response to residents' complaints.

Ms Fooks, pictured, the council's executive member for a cleaner city, said: "The stuff most people are bothered about is food waste. Some people manage, but having to store it for a fortnight is something that presents some people with problems. Collecting it weekly will reassure people that we are listening to what they tell us they want. A lot of food waste is going into landfill."

Ms Fooks dismissed suggestions that transporting waste out of the county would undo any environmental good, because large quantities could be packed into trucks.

Most residents' concerns in recent months about vermin and rotting rubbish spilling on to streets have centred on the disposal of food.

The scheme will try out different methods of storing and collecting food waste from householders. Ms Fooks said the council would experiment with different kinds of containers, to see which best suit people. Different types of properties will be covered during the trial to ensure that any future scheme is suitable for all types of dwellings in the city.

Food waste from Oxford will probably be sent to an anaerobic digestion plant, which produces bio-gas and is used to generate electricity. Compost is also produced for agricultural use.

It is understood that the city council will be investing £95,000 in the scheme, with the balance coming from the Oxfordshire Waste Partnership.

It now appears that a uniform, county-wide waste collection scheme will not go ahead.

It is likely that the Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire and West Oxfordshire district councils are to join forces, with Oxford City and Cherwell, which do not contract out waste collection, continuing to operate alone with their own staff.

Plans for a £5m food waste treatment centre on land near Yarnton were given planning permission last week in the face of strong local opposition.

County councillors approved the application for a plant, capable of processing up to 49,000 tonnes of kitchen and garden waste a year.

The scheme has been submitted by Worton Farm Ltd, the owner of the land, and the Chipping Norton-based recycling company Agrivert. The site, on land between Yarnton and Cassington, is close to the A40, within easy reach of homes in Oxford, Witney and Bicester.

County Hall invited tenders in November from companies to build one or more plants to process food and kitchen waste, which it wants to see running within 18 months. It is still to draw up a shortlist.

Agrivert submitted its plans for a plant near Yarnton ahead of the selection process because it felt it would improve its chances of winning the contract.

All Oxfordshire councils now see a food treatment centre as a crucial part of a county-wide strategy to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and avoid hefty fines.