Landfill site operators have now contributed more than £1 billion through environmental bodies to local projects. The scheme, which hit the £1bn mark last month, is a good example of partnership between government, private and charitable sectors to benefit communities - with more than 24,000 community and environmental projects being supported by the Fund.
The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) was introduced by the Government in 1996 to help mitigate the effects of landfill on local communities by improving the environment in the vicinity of landfill sites. Landfill Tax is a tax on waste, and the Landfill Communities Fund (formerly the Landfill Tax Credits Scheme) is a way of giving a slice of the money that would have been due in tax to a community, social or environmental project instead.
Projects that have benefited from LCF funding include those where land has been reclaimed, local community facilities have been improved, places of worship have been repaired and habitat schemes have been set up to support biodiversity.
HM Revenue and Customs is responsible for appointing a regulatory body and overseeing its activities. It was decided at the outset that the scheme would be managed by an organisation independent of government that was able to work in partnership with the private, public and voluntary sectors helping to improve the lives of those communities living near landfill sites.
The Environmental Trust Scheme Regulatory Body (ENTRUST) was formed specifically to regulate the scheme. It is charged with enrolling, monitoring and auditing the environmental bodies and making sure they spend the money appropriately.
Under the scheme, landfill operators can give up to six per cent of their total annual landfill tax liability to environmental bodies, and claim back 90 per cent of that donation from the Government. The remaining 10 per cent can be borne by the landfill operator itself, or a third party can make up the difference.
The first project to be registered with ENTRUST back in September 1996 was the Todmorden Moor Restoration Trust. This project involved improvements to Sharneyford Top, including re-establishing plant and wildlife habitats to improve access to the moor. The value of the project was £10,450 with a contribution from the landfill communities Fund of £4,450.
The most recent project registered with ENTRUST is a community one to build a climbing wall in the sports hall of a charity-run leisure centre in Swindon. Its value is £36,400, with a contribution of £11,400 from the Landfill Communities Fund.
Since the beginning of the Fund in 1996 more than £865m has been spent on community projects. Some 16,000 public parks and amenities have been provided or improved. Approximately 4,000 places of worship and historic buildings have been restored or repaired. Some 500 projects have been funded to conserve biodiversity. More than 44,000 youth volunteers have been involved, delivering over 170,000 days of activity, and supported by £189 million of LCF contributions.
Project funding to the value of £3.8bn from sources outside the LCF has been spent or committed on the above projects, reflecting how effective the fund has been in attracting funding from other like-minded organisations.
The fund continues to be an excellent example of government, private and charity sectors working together to make local communities better places to live.
Angela Eagle MP is Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury