Calderdale believes it is striking a fair balance between encouraging recycling and covering its costs where its home garden waste collection service is concerned.

Nationally, Government has been consulting on whether households in England should receive free garden waste collections, with figures compiled by the BBC finding some local authorities are charging up to £100 a year.

In Calderdale people can take their own garden waste to the borough’s recycling centres for free – or compost it themselves to use in their gardens.

But the council three years ago introduced an optional service for residents to have their garden waste collected from their homes but this does carry a charge.

The BBC’s findings have sparked debate with critics saying charges for services like these are a “quiet green tax on gardeners” while the Local Government Association points out that cash-strapped councils cannot afford the cost and if Government wishes these to be free it should provide the funding.

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

Calderdale Council charges £40 annually as a service fee for each 240 litre garden waste bin and believes this is a fair charge to cover the service’s costs, helping recycling – which plays an important role in tackling the climate emergency – at a fair price, said Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Susan Press.

“In 2016 we introduced an optional service for residents to have their garden waste collected from home if they wish, as part of our range of improvements to help people recycle more.

“The annual £40 subscription covers the cost of the service, which includes a green wheelie bin and fortnightly collections between April and November each year,” she said.

Coun Press (Lab, Todmorden) said the cost compares favourably with other areas regionally and nationally and the subscription was shareable with neighbours.

“We don’t charge for the initial bin delivery and residents can share their subscription with friends and neighbours to spread the cost.

“Alternatively, garden waste can be taken to any of our five local Household Waste Recycling Centres for free, and residents can choose to compost their garden waste at home.

“We offer subsidised compost bins for home composting.

“This is increasingly important in the current climate emergency, as we continue to encourage everyone to do all they can to protect our distinctive environment,” she said.

Coun Press said the council would continue to promote its service to residents in its present form.

“If it did become mandatory to provide a free garden waste collection service, we would need to take this into account in our budgeting process and re-assess how this would be rolled out,” she said.

According to the BBC’s research, of the 368 local authorities in the UK which offer regular kerbside collections of domestic garden waste, 217 (59 per cent) charge annually.

The annual charge for the collection service ranges from £22 to £96 and the average annual charge is £31.

Some 100 local authorities (27 per cent) provide a regular collection service for free

In Yorkshire and the Humber, of 21 local authorities, seven (33 per cent) do not charge for the service and the average annual charge for the service is £23, with the highest annual charge for the service being £51.50 in Sheffield.

The highest charges for the supply of a first bin were from Barnsley and Sheffield at £30 – Calderdale does not charge for the initial bin delivery.

Leeds only provides a partial service where it is deemed cost-effective, says the BBC.