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Skip protest threatens Jubilee chaos

Skip operators are to offer prime minister David Cameron an ultimatum: freeze the controversial landfill tax hike or prepare for Queen’s Jubilee weekend chaos.

Exclusive MRW strap

The furious operators are threatening to send more than a thousand skips to block the streets of London over the four-day weekend if the Government does not freeze the landfill tax hike within the next two days.

It follows the Government announcing changes to landfill tax, which have seen the tax cost of disposing of certain materials increase by a staggering 2,460% overnight.

Richard Hunt, chair of the Plant, Waste and Recycling Show, told MRW: “We are giving David Cameron 48 hours to freeze the landfill tax hike or the Queen’s Jubilee weekend might be ruined.

“We will block up central London. We spoke about blocking up the M25 but we do not want to stop people who may be going to the airports to go away on their holidays.”

And the protest could escelate further. “If this does not work, we are considering targeting the Olympics,” said Hunt.

He added that businesses were already closing and that the huge hike in disposal costs was “another nail in the coffin” for the construction industry, which would feel a knock-on effect as the cost of waste disposal rockets.  

A decision on the blockade will be made at a meeting in London on Wednesday 30 May convened by the Plant, Waste and Recycling Show and attended by over 150 skip operator firms from across the country.

Meanwhile, the Plant, Waste and Recycling Show’s petition “Say no to increased landfill tax and rising fuel costs” has already attracted nearly 1,500 signatures.

Skip operators and smaller waste firms who deal with construction and demolition and commercial waste said the move threatened to kill off a raft of small and medium size disposal outfits.      

The change that’s rocked the industry

So-called “inert” fines from trommels and screens (material that is not going to contaminate landfill and does not count towards the EU biodegradable landfill targets) was charged at the lower landfill tax rate of £2.50.

But now merchants will have to pay the full rate of £64-a-tonne to landfill which is paid for “active” material, including non-inert fines that can biodegrade and create methane.  

In addition, waste or material used to cover waste in landfill areas before they are capped will also be taxed at the full rate. This had previously been regarded as “engineering material”.

The move, outlined in a HMRC briefing document published on 18 May, relates to a judgement in the HMRC v Waste Recycling Group (2008) case.  

Readers' comments (12)

  • Talk about blackmail - it’s about time there was a level playing field on landfill disposal. Certain companies (Large and Small) have been getting away with paying the lower level of LFT for years and this has affected operators that do not own their own facilities. I hope the Government seizes and recycles any HGVs that cause a nuisance this weekend.

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  • Just like the truck drivers did in the fuel protests..... cause mayhem for everyone and get no where.

    Im all for standing up to and for your rights, but a tax is a tax and the loophole has been closed. You made hay while the sun shone and now it's gloomy. Reinvest some of your previous gains back into your business and this will all become a distant memory.


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  • What everyone is forgetting is that the low rate for skips has been due to this so called "loophole". Now that this change has come about, there will be an immediate increase in cost of skips, about 40%, resulting in increased costs for construction and the householder. This will be a windfall for the government of incredible dimensions.

    While I am not opposed to the change, if it is imposed fairly and evenly, that is not going to happen. Some skip companies will continue to flout the law, and dispose of this waste wherever they can. The result will be chaos with many skip companies going to the wall and hundreds of jobs lost.

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  • We all knew this loophole was going to disappear sooner or later and we all know that so called fines are certainly not inert to the true meaning. These trommel fines, after shredding contained bits of food, polystyrene, rigid plastics and polythene. Certainly not inert and not inactive!! It's time to change our processes boys and girls and do what this is intended to do. Tax landfill accordingly and encourage real recycling. As the above post - all the money you have earned on this.... Invest it back into your business. The gravy train has stopped and now it's a level playing field.

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  • The plain fact is that the landfill tax legislation and recent interpretation by HMRC is poorly drafted and does not distinguish between soil based fines and other wastes. Abuses of the system should be curtailed but can the anonymous persons find a use for the vast quantity of fines in this country when there is no prospect of a recycled soils protocol. This is not a simple issue of closing a loophole and will have a negative impact upon recycling.

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  • How uneducated are those who class this change to structure as a level playing field and believe we will all be treated the same. Are the government going to charge the full rate LFT on incineration bottom ash now….I think not !! We should not support those operators who run bent but at the same time our industry should have been consulted.

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  • Its interesting how those who post ./ write comments on here that are not true & lack any real sense are always posted by 'Anonymous' the last comments said that are very true those who are writing such nonsense as a 'level playing field' are talking rubbish literally! many you who have posted these comments in favour of this tax actually work at the 'sharp' end of the waste & recycling industry & have a true practical knowledge, not many I'm sure!

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  • As for the comments about skip hire operators previously being on a ' Gravy train' that is very offensive to read, and also in relation to the comments about operators / owner operators without their own facilities being effected its these 'operators' that cause most of the problems out there both with cheap rates & fly tipping!!,ask the 'EA' & any licensed skip / waste company & they will confirm this.

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  • Blackmail!!, its people defending their industry & more importantly their livelihoods, this is not just about 'fines' or loopholes, its also about tax on clean soils, clays, top soil & other 'Inert' material that are dug up every day whether you're at home in the garden or digging house foundations, I ask these people who are making stupid un -founded comments on here to try to book a skip pr grab lorry (From a licensed legal company) next week for 'dirt / muck' only and see how much you're quoted now thanks to the greedy HMRC / won't be posting stupid comments about loopholes & level playing fields then we assure you, that is unless you've got a spare £700 - £1000...or more!

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  • I wrote an article in 2006 about the dangers of fines attracting the higher rate of tax, but that was when we still had the tax definitions of 'active' and 'inactive', which led to some common sense in interpretation. The 2011 draft of the Qualifying Materials Order is inflexible and only allows 'subsoil' in at the lower rate so James' comments above are sadly correct. By all means post anonymous comments but read the legislation and HMRC judgment first.

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