GARDENERS will have to pay up to £50 a year to have green waste collected and composted under a new scheme to come in from April.
Portsmouth City Council is planning the new system which aims to cut the amount of waste burned by up to 500 tonnes per year.
But critics say the cost is too high for pensioners and people on low incomes.
The city’s green waste policy currently offers 20 green waste bags for £25, which can be filled and collected from homes.
But now the council has asked its waste contractor, Biffa, to collect all garden waste fortnightly and compost it at a central point. The council says people who want to take part in the scheme will have to pay an annual fee of up to £50 for a special bin.
Muriel Deacon, president of Portsmouth Pensioners Association, said: ‘The cost is too high. Many pensioners are keen gardeners, but they won’t be able to afford this on top of the other cuts and price increases hitting us all. Others rely on people to come and help them clear their gardens.
‘There’s no way they will be able to afford to pay for this.’
Garden waste collected under the current system is taken to the city’s Energy Recovery Facility, in Quartremaine Road, Copnor, where the waste is burned.
In the last year, 500 tonnes was burned.
The only way for green waste to be composted is for people to take it on the first Sunday of the month to Victoria Avenue car park, in Southsea, or the Burrfields Road recreation ground car park, Copnor. It can also be taken to the Portsmouth Recycling Centre in Port Solent.
But the council says the current arrangements are failing, and cost too much. Just 95 tonnes of green waste was collected last year, at a cost of £15,000.
Cllr Eleanor Scott, who’s in charge of environmental issues at the council, said: ‘The scheme we have in mind, and which we want to go ahead with from spring 2012, will cut at a stroke the amount we’re burning. We’ll be composting this waste, which will then benefit the city, rather than burning it. Even though we can get energy from burning waste, it’s still harmful to the environment.’
Cllr Scott promised to attempt to try to drive the £50 fee down, particularly for those on low incomes.
She said: ‘The figure of £50 for a bin is a maximum.
‘People can club together and get one bin for a whole group of them, and I’d far prefer the cost for anyone to be £40 rather than £50 per year. We’ll also look at the most vulnerable people and see if we can offer them subsidies.’