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Industry tries to agree acceptable contamination levels

Waste chiefs are attempting to agree a pan-industry line on the thorny issue of what level of contamination should be allowed in material charged at the lower landfill tax rate, MRW has learned.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) is set to meet the United Resource Operators Confederation (UROC), a fledging group for skip hire and smaller waste transfer sector firms, on 17 July for discussions on the issue and other topics (see box).

UROC spokeswoman Jennifer Whatts said: “The meeting will provide an opportunity for any issues that may exist between the parties to be identified and provide a good foundation for key stakeholders to work together.”

ESA head of regulation Sam Corp said the Association was approaching the talks with an “open mind”.

But senior industry figures privately warned that it would be “challenging” to reach agreement on what level of so-called ‘incidental’ amounts of non-qualifying material should be allowed in a load which is essentially clean.

Landfill operators, represented by the ESA, are likely to want a far lower level of incidental material than skip operators, who could be forced to pay considerably more landfill tax if the material is classed as non-inert, sources said.  

The news follows HM Customs & Revenue (HMRC) publishing further guidance on when the lower rate of tax should apply, designed as an interim solution to the hiatus which has rocked the industry ( 8632663.article).

The interim guidance confirmed that ‘inert’ waste listed in the Schedule to the Landfill Tax (Qualifying Material) Order 2011 should be charged at the lower landfill tax rate of £2.50 a tonne, not £64 a tonne.

The document is the third guidance note issued by HMRC since May to try to resolve the confusion.

Up for discussion

In the third guidance note, Landfill Tax - interim advice on lower rating, HMRC committed to:

Working with industry to provide further guidance on a number of issues, including:

  • The definition of “naturally occurring” in Group 1 of the 2011 Order
  • More objective evidential requirements, including those relating to ‘incidental’ amounts of non-qualifying material in a load that is essentially of qualifying material
  • Guidance on the conditions that must be met where lower rated waste, used for the purposes of filling existing or former quarries, qualifies for exemption from Landfill Tax

HMRC says it will keep stakeholders updated on progress relating to the new guidance and undertake discussions with stakeholders while developing the policy. It hopes to produce a draft before the end of the summer

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