Call for compensation if Harborough District Council barred from charging for green waste bin collections

The Government has been consulting on whether households in England should receive free garden waste collections
The Government has been consulting on whether households in England should receive free garden waste collections

Harborough District Council has backed calls for government compensation if the law changes to stop it charging extra for garden waste collections.

While the Government has been consulting on whether households in England should receive free garden waste collections, analysis by the BBC has found that some local authorities are charging up to £100 a year.

Harborough District Council is one of the 25 local authorities (66 per cent of the 38 councils in total) in the East Midlands which charges for green waste collections.

The charge in Harborough district is £40 per bin for the year.

The highest annual charge in the East Midlands is in Melton at £57, while the highest nationally is in Harlow, Essex, at £96 per year.

The Government says it believes that providing a regular kerbside collection service is the “best way” to increase recycling of garden waste. It has asked for opinions on the possibility of all councils in England providing the service free of charge from 2023.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said if free garden waste collections became mandatory then “the government will have to pay the full new burden’s cost”.

Councillor David Renard, environment spokesman for the LGA, 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.

“Collecting garden waste is not yet a statutory service. It is a matter for locally elected councils as to whether they charge for the service. It should be noted that the service is not free in councils that do not explicitly charge. Rather the cost is spread over the whole relevant population. The variation in cost will reflect local circumstances, such as geography.

"There is no obligation on residents to take the paid service. Home composting is cheaper and better for the environment.

“Compost made from garden waste offers consumers a locally-produced alternative to products made of unsustainable material such as peat, and can be used to improve brownfield or agricultural land. It does not generate any significant income for councils as it is a low-value product. The process of turning garden waste into compost is done by a third party at a cost to councils, which is much higher than any money raised from the sale of the end products.

“If garden waste collection is mandatory and free then the government will have to pay the full new burden’s cost which will include start-up costs for those that are not currently collecting garden waste and recompensing those councils that currently collect for the lost income.”

Cllr Jonathan Bateman said: "Harborough District Council implemented a charge for garden waste in 2016 to help address some of the difficult financial challenges we were facing.

"We asked residents what they would like to see us to continue to operate, reduce or stop all together.

"Residents agreed they would rather pay a garden waste collection service to cover the costs rather than see the non-statutory service stop.

"Following research at the time, the costs were between £20-£60, Harborough decided to opt for the middle at £40 per bin. The cost of this equates to £1.90 per collection.

"The service continues to be very popular with residents, as a convenient way to dispose of their garden waste, with over 50 per cent of the households using the scheme.

"Prior to 2003/04 the council did not operate a garden waste service; this was introduced in that year and remained free of charge until 2016 when we were required to levy a charge.

"Harborough District Council would re-iterate the comments made by the LGA that compensation to cover the cost of operating the service would be needed."