East Northants green waste collection charge one of region's highest
A fee East Northamptonshire residents must pay to have garden waste collected is the second largest in the region, figures have shown.
East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) currently charges £55 per household per year for fortnightly green waste collections on top of council tax, a fee critics say unfairly punishes gardeners.
The council is one of just two authorities in Northamptonshire to impose a charge for the service with garden waste collections free in Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough, Northampton and South Northamptonshire.
Daventry is the only other district in the county where residents must pay an annual fee which is £36. Only Melton's charge (£57) is higher than East Northamptonshire's in the East Midlands region.
An East Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: "If more residents subscribed to the service it would enable ENC to review the overall costs and the price to the resident.
"Some councils choose to charge all residents for this service.
"ENC’s service is subscription-based, so is a cost to those who wish to pay it.
"It is not a service that is paid by all council tax payers, regardless of whether they use the service or not."
The spokesman added that their service means collection crews minimise diesel usage which is better for the environment.
The collection of garden waste is not currently a statutory service, and the government says that charging for collections is “at the discretion of local authorities”.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) carried out a consultation this year on consistency in household and business recycling collections in England.
In the consultation, it said the transition cost of introducing a free garden waste collection service would be £229m over seven years but that free garden waste services for all could increase recycling by six per cent.
Of the 368 local authorities in the UK which offer regular kerbside collections of domestic garden waste, 217 (59 per cent) charge annually. A total of 100 provide the service for free.
The highest annual charges are in Harlow (£96), Adur (£85), Worthing (£85), Lewisham (£80) and Malvern Hills (£78).
Anthony O’Sullivan, managing director of Gardeners Club, said: “UK gardeners are increasingly being punished with a quiet green-garden tax which seems to go against every other positive environmental initiative that the UK is trying to promote."
But Cllr David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Ultimately, garden waste collection has to be paid for by someone. It’s only fair that those households which have gardens and generate the waste pay for the service. This is why some councils charge for this as it’s not a universal service.”