Local authorities and businesses need a clearer indication of what the landfill tax will be beyond 2010/11, a leading environmental consultant has warned.
Eunomia Research & Consulting director Dr Dominic Hogg told MRW that the current position of HM Treasury is to keep secret the level of tax beyond 2010/11.
Dr Hogg added: Although the Chancellor keeps hinting in the Budget statements and Pre-Budget reports, his intention to allow the tax to increase beyond 2010/11, his failure to tell the market exactly how much it will increase over a time horizon must be considered one of the most poorly judged non-decisions affecting this sector.
[Announcing the future increases] would strengthen the case for additional investments in source separation systems to be made on the basis that collectors would see a strengthened economic rationale for this, provided by the increased avoided cost of disposal.
It would allow investments in treatment to be made with greater confidence, based on the knowledge that landfill might become priced out of consideration. It would, following adjustment periods, send the value of landfill allowances downwards, thereby encouraging local authorities to re-enter the market for commercial waste collection and treatment.
All these things are happening to some degree, but much more might happen if the tax was increased to something of the order of £70 per tonne.
A HM Treasury spokesman said: "All taxes are a matter for the Chancellor and kept under review as part of the Budget and Pre-Budget report process".
Dr Hogg also said that another challenge local authorities face to tackle commercial waste is generation of quality data, which he labels truly appalling. He said that the withdrawal of local authorities from collecting commercial waste has been motivated in part by the Landfill Allowances Schemes, and the way municipal waste is defined under those schemes.
He said: Collecting more non-household municipal waste constituted, in the eyes of some waste disposal authorities and unitary authorities, a liability in the context of the schemes.
He also said that the commercial waste collection market was fragmented compared to the municipal market with different enterprises receiving services from a range of different service providers, even when on the same street. He has called for concessions to be given to service providers in to operate in specific areas to help with collection of commercial waste.