COUNCIL officers want to bring in a £40 charge for collecting garden waste from homes across Wealden.
Weeks after boasting about freezing council tax, Wealden District Council is considering whether to introduce an annual fee for picking up grass cuttings and hedge trimmings.
Under the plan, those who refuse the charge – equivalent to a 23 per cent rise in the authority's share of council tax – would no longer get their garden waste collected.
Residents have warned the fee, which has already been dubbed a "terraced tax" as it will hit those with gardens too small for a compost heap, will simply put them off recycling.
Paul Walters, from Western Road in Crowborough, fumed: "It's an absolute disgrace. How can you ask people to pay to recycle?"
Keen gardener Pete Bridges from Green Lane said: "It's pretty cheeky. I pay council tax, and they want me to take garden waste to the tip myself."
The district's most senior councillors were due to discuss the idea at Wednesday's cabinet meeting, but quickly dropped the item when they became aware of hostility to the plan.
Council leader Bob Standley said on Tuesday: "We are trying to get more information so councillors are clear on the pluses and minuses of the project."
District councillor Antony Quin, from Beacon Gardens in Crowborough, admitted that the idea was bound to affect people living in towns more than those in the countryside with larger homes.
Garden waste collections are currently paid for as part of Wealden District Council's £174 share of council tax, but officers at Pine Grove recommended the new charge as it could rake in £1 million extra revenue and save a further £1 million in collection costs.
It was prompted by the council's decision to merge bin collections with three other councils.
Phil Witten, chairman of the residents' group at Kings Court flats in Mill Lane, said: "People aren't going to pay up to £40 on top of their council tax. They'll start dumping it wherever they can.
"We already find quite a few Christmas trees in hedges and on the grass. This idea is not going to work."
Special report pages 4&5