Authority to set landfill tax levels could be devolved to the Scottish Government, as part of new draft legislation designed increase the country’s tax setting powers.
Introduced in the Scotland Bill, the measures would limit existing landfill tax to disposals made in England, Ireland and Wales, while providing the Scottish Government with the power to set its own Scottish landfill tax rates.
Currently, landfill tax rates stand at £48/tonne across the UK, and are due to increase by £8/tonne each year until 2013. However, a spokesperson for Scottish waste management firm William Tracey group explained that a change in landfill tax levels in Scotland may create a “major disparity between England and Scotland.”
A spokesman said: “The compliance burden on landfill operators would be determined by the Scottish Parliament. However, it is possible that operators with sites in both Scotland and England may experience an increase in compliance burden, by filling out two tax returns rather than just one.
“There is also the potential that the Scottish Government may be liable for UK Landfill Directive fines if changes to Scottish landfill tax were deemed responsible for the UK failing to achieve its landfill diversion targets. This proposed legislation will increase administrative obligations on reporting and overall may be a bad thing for Scotland.”
However, the news of the powers was welcomed by Scottish Environment Protection Agency national waste policy unit manager Kenny Boag, who said: “Landfill tax has clearly played a part in reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill by making more sustainable treatment options, such as recovery and recycling, cheaper and more accessible.
“Giving the Scottish Government greater powers to vary the level at which this is set may be useful in the future. However, it is only one tool in managing the shift away from landfill and any future role should be set against the wider changes in waste regulation and national policy, as set out in the recent consultation on the regulatory measures to support the Zero Waste Plan.”