Ian Yuill

Liberal Democrat councillor for Mannofield, Airyhall, Braeside, Broomhill, Garthdee, Kaimhill and Ruthrieston Learn more

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Council confirms Garden Tax due to be imposed by late summer

by Ian Yuill on 4 May, 2019

Council staff have told me they aim to introduce the Garden Tax on collecting garden waste from brown wheelie bins in the late summer. They revealed this in an answer to one of 23 questions I asked about the imposition of the Garden Tax.

Other answers I have received reveal that neighbours will be able to share a brown bin on which the Garden Tax has been paid and that the Garden Tax will be levied per household not per bin.

Still unanswered questions

Of the 23 questions I asked, five remain unanswered. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I will keep pressing for answers to these.

The full list of questions I asked, and the answers I have received, is:

1. When in 2019/20 will the Garden Tax be introduced?

Timing is key to the success of this service to attain the income required.  It is important that the service is launched during the gardening season.  Work continues to develop the processes and procedures required and these are subject to a variety of factors including procurement, internal service development (payment system, Firmstep, website, etc).  

A project team has been established and, barring any unforeseen difficulties, it is anticipated that the new service will go live late summer.

2. I understand from the media that brown bins from households which have paid the Garden Tax will be distinguished by a label. Will these labels have to be obtained annually by householders or will a label be valid for repeated years provided the resident continues to pay the Garden Tax?

Householders who sign up will be issued with a tamper proof permit (sticker) which will contain their address and must be fixed to the bin to ensure collection.  Bins containing garden waste with no sticker will not be collected.  A new label will be issued for each year.

3. What charge will be made in 2019/20 given that the Garden Tax will not cover a full year in 2019/20? Alternatively, if the £30 charge is to be levied for only part of 2019/20 , what charge will be levied for a full twelve months in future years?

The charge will be for 12 months from date of implementation.

4. If a resident decides part-way through a year to opt to have garden and green waste collected from their home will they have to pay a full year charge or will they receive a discount on their garden Tax?

This is still under discussion.

5. If someone who pays the Garden Tax moves home during the period to which that charge applies, does that individual have to pay a further Garden Tax for garden waste collections from their new home? If so, will they be able to secure a part refund on the Garden Tax paid for their former home?

This is still under discussion.

6. If the council fails to empty a brown bin for any reason on a regular collection day will a householder who has paid the Garden Tax be entitled to a refund and, if so, how will that be administered and what will be the cost of that? If it is not proposed to refund people when a collection is missed, why not?

This is still under discussion.

7. As stickers are to be used to distinguish the brown bins of people who have paid the Garden Tax, what controls will be in place to ensure that people who have not paid the Garden Tax do not “acquire” someone else’s “charge paid” sticker or brown bin with its “charge paid” sticker attached?

The sticker will be tamper proof permit (sticker) which will contain their address and must be fixed to the bin to ensure collection. 

8. If a resident’s brown bin with a “charge paid” sticker attached  is lost or stolen will that resident have to pay an additional Garden Tax to obtain a label to affix to their replacement brown bin?

This is still under discussion.

9. If a resident has more than one brown bin, is the Garden Tax levied per bin or per household?

The charge is an annual per household charge.

10. Can neighbours share a brown bin and pay one Garden Tax?

Yes, there is no way we could police this.

11. What measures does the council suggest that residents who have paid the Garden Tax take to ensure that residents who have not paid the Garden Tax do not use their brown bins?

The service can provide advice on bin security if required.

12. Given that this Garden Tax is almost certain to lead to more garden and green waste being placed in black bins, has the council estimated the additional cost of that (including the additional Landfill Tax that would have to be paid) and, if so, what is that estimated cost? If not, why not?

We have information from other local authorities on the likely impacts to waste arisings and these are not significant overall.

13. Has the council estimated the environmental impact of introducing the Garden Tax and, if so, what is it? If not, why not?

There is not expected to be any significant environmental impact to the current system, although it is difficult to accurately measure this as there are many variables involved.  However, our collection routes are planned to remain the same and the disposal route for the material is the same as it is now.  There is likely to be an increase in journeys to HWRCs but there is also expected to be an increase in home composting or other minimisation activity.

14. How will council staff determine whether material in a brown bin from a household which has not paid the Garden Tax is garden waste or food waste? A rotten apple, the outer leaves of a lettuce and many other things could be either garden waste or food waste.

Training and guidance for staff will be provided.

15. Has any consideration been given to whether distinguishing labelled and unlabelled brown bin and checking the contents of unlabelled brown bins from households which have not paid the Garden Tax will impact on the efficiency of brown bin collection and, if so, what was the result of that? If not, why not?

It is expected that there will be increased workload on collection crews as they have to check bins for permits/stickers and check contents of those bins with no stickers to ensure they only contain food waste, we plan to provide extra resource when the scheme starts.

16. Given the almost-certain negative impact the Garden Tax will have on recycling levels, does the council intend to offer households composters at a discounted cost to encourage home composting?

It is possible that a decrease in garden waste participation could result in lower recycling rate. Perth and Kinross did see slight drop in garden waste collected last year but this may also be attributed to the dry summer and this drop has been mirrored in other authorities, including ACC.

17. Currently many residents use their brown bins to dispose of leaves from council-owned trees which fall on the pavement outside their homes. Will the council require these community-spirited residents to pay the Garden Tax?

This is still under discussion.

18. What is the projected full-year annual cost of administering the Garden Tax / charge?

There will be implementation costs, including permit/sticker system, direct debit set up, communications and marketing costs, and additional staff during launch period.  Accurate full costs are not yet available as ongoing work on procurement of some of these services is still being worked on.

19. What is the projected full-year gross annual income from the Garden Tax / charge?

Based on information from other authorities, a participation rate between 40% and 50% of eligible households is realistic, this will bring a gross income of between £792,000 and £990,000.  Costs mentioned above will be netted off this income.

20. What level of confidence do officers have that the projected income targets from the Garden Tax will be achieved?

Information from other local authorities suggests that this is achievable, however, there are a number of factors which may influence this.

21. What on-off set up costs will be incurred in introducing the Garden Tax / charge?

As per question 18.

22. What is the projected full-year cost (excluding the cost of administering the £30 Garden Tax / charge) of collecting residential brown bins containing garden and other green waste in Aberdeen?

There are 7 collection vehicles collecting this material.  How costs are viewed will vary depending on how the costs of vehicles are attributed (depreciation, etc).  Cost of staffing is approx £550K per annum.  Average annual running costs (fuel, maintenance, etc) of an RCV excluding capital/depreciation costs are around £30K p.a.

23. What is the projected full-year cost of collecting residential brown bins containing only food waste in Aberdeen?

We cannot provide this information as food waste is collected alongside the garden waste so we are unable to extract that level of detail.

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   13 Comments

13 Responses

  1. John Flett says:

    When the leaves fall, it collects at my house, and I could fill the bucket daily.Will the council arrange for more regular collection of their leaves?

  2. Sheila Cameron says:

    Just the usual complete cock up from this council

  3. George Morrison says:

    Hello , in the event that I elect not to pay the £30 annual charge , willI I be able to retain my brown bin eg circumstances may change and I may no longer be able to visit the skip site . Thank you .

  4. Phil tristram says:

    What will happen if I put out food waste only, and someone else (unknown) tops up my bin with garden waste?

  5. Jane Cooper says:

    Henceforth I will discontinue collecting leaves from the pavement outside my house on Devonshire Road. They will be left to become a hazard to pedestrians when they turn to mush and become slippy. The council ignore my calls every year and do not collect leaves until the trees are bare. Drains along the street are regularly blocked by leaves and the residents have to clear them to prevent flooding. Services have deteriorated drastically in the last few years while council tax continues to rise. Our street is no longer gritted in winter for example. The council should be ashamed of themselves imposing this garden waste tax.

  6. Valerie Bain says:

    Does this Council not realise that how often you need to cut the grass varies from person to person, lawn to lawn and personal preference. How can a £30 garden tax therefore be fair? Most people start to cut their grass the first week in May and the last cut is September, so this £30/per year garden tax actually equates to £6 a month!! And what a stupid time to introduce it…..late Summer! I know what I will be doing, the local recycling centres accept organic garden waste for free, if I feel up to it, I might even build myself a compost pit!

  7. Valerie Bain says:

    Has climate differences been factored into this so called “modest” £30 per year garden tax? Most people’s gardening season has changed considerably here in Aberdeen (5 months of the year for me) I have only just started to get out into the garden to give grass it’s first cut and come September, well, it is usually downhill after that, it’s a lot per month when broken down, there are months in the year where the climate prevents you going into the garden therefore there is no garden waste to speak of.

  8. David Lowden says:

    Can I first of all thank you for the very comprehensive list of questions you have prepared. It is just amazing what you have to think of to hold the council to account.
    I fail to see why this has to be a ‘continual battle’ to implement a new, but relatively simple, charge for residents.
    Further to George Morrison’s question, I too do not wish to pay the garden tax, but would like to request the council supply a permanent, tamper-proof label to this effect.

    Thanks

  9. Davina Hutchison says:

    Good questions thank you.

    Two questions please.

    Is there a maximum no of brown bins per household for the £30 charge?

    What procedures have the council put in place to clear fly -tipped garden waste?

    • Ian Yuill says:

      1. I’m not aware of any limit but presumably that will be included in the rules for the Garden Tax once those are finalised.

      2. Not as far as I am aware.

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