EFFORTS to improve Harrogate's green image in response to Government pressure will cost the borough council at least £350,000.

In a letter to the council leader, Councillor Michael Meacher, Environment Minister Michael Meacher has asked what the council intends to do to overcome its rating as a low performer when it comes to recycling waste.

Health director Les Williamson said the council needed to invest in house-to-house recycling schemes and find somewhere for the rubbish collected for reuse.

The council will extend its newspaper and magazine collections. But Mr Williamson said that to achieve the council's desired rate of 21 per cent by 2005-2006, such schemes would have to be expanded and a green garden waste collection begun.

He wanted the council's cabinet to set aside almost £350,000 in the coming year and warned that because the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had rejected a bid for cash for a trial garden waste scheme, substantial costs would fall on the council later.