MORE people than predicted have paid a controversial £30 annual charge to have their garden waste collected in brown bins by Highland Council, according to new figures.
The deadline to opt-in to the service passed on Frida.
A total of 25,160 bins have now been paid for by 24,030 households, as some use more than one bin.
At £30 per bin, the charge will raise £754,800 for the local authority, smashing the £660,000 target set in February.
Councillors tok the decision to charge fo rthe service while identifying measures to help plug a £20 million black hole.
Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of the local authority's places committee – which has replaced community services – said he was always confident the target would be met, despite a number of angry householders saying they would boycott the service in protest against the charge.
"This was one of the savings we were more positive about because it was giving people a choice," he said.
"They have the option of paying if they want but nobody was being forced to.
"We knew from research and anecdotal evidence that a lot of people were willing to pay the £30."
The service begins on July 3 and people who wanted the service were asked to order a sticker which will be put onto each bin to prove the controversial charge has been paid.
The deadline was extended for one week after people experienced problems paying online and could not get through by phone after the council was swamped with calls.
Householders can still apply to receive the brown bin service, but the council cannot guarantee the permit stickers will be delivered in time for their first collection next month.
It takes around two weeks for the processing of payments, production and the mailing of the bin permit stickers to customers.
Cllr Henderson said as the council has raised more than the initial target his committee can now consider providing the service to more areas of the Highlands.
"The number is growing so that will give us the opportunity to look at the possibility of rolling it out to areas who don't currently receive the service," he said.