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Coffey: landfill tax may be insufficient incentive

Environment minister Therese Coffey has suggested that landfill tax has “stopped being a sufficient penalty” to incentivise poorly performing authorities to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill.

Speaking at a Conservative Party conference fringe event, hosted by Policy Exchange and waste management company Suez, Coffey (pictured here with other speakers) suggested additional steps may be needed to address the “plateauing” in rates of household recycling.

She also said she wanted to remove the ”excuse” used by some urban councils that they could not get residents to recycle more, and was “surprised that taxpayers…seem to be happy to keep spending money on landfill tax when councils complain they haven’t got enough money to run services”.

In response to a comment from Suez external affairs director Gev Eduljee, Coffey downplayed suggestions that the tax may be scrapped, stating she was “not aware of any submissions to [her] to get rid of landfill tax”.

Earlier this year, HM Revenue & Customs ran a consultation on the classification of materials which are included in or exempt from the 20-year-old tax.

Coffey also indicated that the Government was not considering radical changes to environmental policy following Brexit or cutting recycling targets, saying: “In the entire EU debate, there was no mandate for changing big things on the environment.”

She reiterated previous assurances from the prime minister around the place of existing EU legislation in UK law, although she indicated that British people may want to see some changes once outside the EU.

On the circular economy proposals from the European Commission, Coffey said the UK shared Germany’s concerns about the definitions and classifications suggested.

Discussing the 25-year environment plan being developed by Defra, she said the promised framework element would be out by the end of November.

Since coming to her post, Coffey said, the focus of the plan had been shifted to make it more “holistic”. She also expressed her hope that it would utilise the language of ’natural capital’.

Madhav Bakshi is a political analyst at DeHavilland, the leading provider of political intelligence and a sister company to MRW. For more on its work, including coverage of the party conferences, visit the DeHavilland website.

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