The council had previously opted to move from a £40-per-year scheme to a free service in April 2013, bucking the trend amongst local authorities, many of whom have begun charging residents for green waste collections in recent years.
However, the authority is now reviewing the cost of a number of its services, including the garden waste collection scheme (see letsrecycle.com story).
The recommendation to continue offering free collections comes in response to concerns that Amber Valley could fail to achieve Derbyshire’s 55% combined recycling and composting target by 2020.
A report to be discussed at a meeting of Amber Valley council’s cabinet tomorrow (November 26) also shows that there is little appetite among residents for a return to paid-for garden waste collections.
It comes after a three-week online consultation over whether to reintroduce a yearly subscription for the service or to scrap garden waste collections altogether, which was launched by the cabinet in September.
The consultation found that of the 6,982 respondents surveyed, 80% thought that the free garden waste service should continue, even if this is at the expense of other services. However, 73% of respondents have indicated that they would be prepared to pay for the service in preference to it being withdrawn altogether.
Most of the respondents also indicated that if they were required to pay for the service, they would only be prepared to pay £20 per year for the service.
The report states: “If a charge was made of £20 per household for the 5,067 customers who have indicated they would be prepared to pay for the service it would amount to £101,340 of annual savings. Obviously, a higher charge would potentially increase this amount but may also reduce the numbers of customers willing to pay.”
Now, recommendations laid out in the cabinet report have urged the council to continue to provide the collections, arguing that the Waste Collection and Recycling Working Group should produce a more ‘detailed’ report reviewing the current service by March 11 2015.
Justifying the decision, the report explains that while Amber Valley has the third highest dry recycling rate in Derbyshire – it is also one of the poorest performing councils with respect to garden waste collections. In 2012/13, Amber Valley recorded an overall recycling, composting and reuse rate of 28%, which rose to 33% in 2013/14.
This has led to concern that Amber Valley could see its composting rate fall further and fail to meet county-wide targets, with 67% of consultation respondents indicating they would dispose of their green waste in the refuse bin if the service was scrapped altogether.
The report adds: “In 2006 the Council committed to supporting the strategy ‘Dealing with Derbyshire’s Waste’. This strategy depends on local authorities working towards (and ultimately achieving) a recycling and composting rate of 55%. This Derbyshire-wide strategy is currently being reviewed and the draft revision will be the subject of a separate report.
“The Strategy does provide for the development of an ‘energy from waste’ plant at Sinfin and this initiative progressed to financial close recently. The specification for the development of this plant is based on the assumption that all the Derbyshire collection authorities will achieve their agreed recycling targets.
“Removal of the garden waste service or significant reduction in collected tonnages may impact on this development in the future.”
The author adds that the council’s waste contractor Veolia should be given notice of any recommended changes in time for the 2016 collection period. This is due to a ‘rolling annual agreement’, meaning that the council must commit to next years’ service before the end of this current calendar year, and giving Veolia enough time to secure appropriate vehicles and staff numbers.