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Waste sector demands landfill tax certainty

The waste industry has called for clear direction from Chancellor George Osborne about the future of landfill tax ahead of the Budget on Wednesday.

The call is part of a raft of steps the Environmental Services Association (ESA) is urging the government to take, including measures to stimulate the Circular Economy, combat waste crime, create green jobs and provide tax breaks.

ESA economist Jacob Hayler said the industry needed to know what would happen after the landfill tax escalator reaches £80 per tonne next month.

“The landfill tax escalator has done an excellent job in signalling future rates to the industry, and allowing investments in alternative infrastructure to be planned in advance,” he said.

“However, this is coming to an end and we now need clear direction from the government on the future for landfill tax. This is crucial.”

Other industry operators agreed that more clarity for landfill tax increases should be a priority.

Chris Dow, director of Closed Loop Recycling, said: “We certainly believe that landfill tax should increase at least in line with inflation and the formula should be fixed until, say, 2020 in order to provide confidence and certainty to potential investors in recycling and reprocessing infrastructure.”

Gemma Scott, head of efficiencies and local authority support for London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) said that it would be lobbying to make sure that landfill tax is put back into the recycling and waste management sector at a grass-roots level.

“It generates a lot of money for the Treasury, running into millions of pounds a year, which you don’t see come back, even though we are paying it,” she said.

The ESA’s Hayler said that the waste industry had faced a challenging few years and but that the introduction of measures to unlock a circular economy could stimulate £10 billion in investment in the UK’s waste and resources infrastructure.

“But this will only be realised if the industry is given the certainty it needs to make those investments,” he said.

ESA also called on the Chancellor to use the Budget to signal extra resources for the Environment Agency and relevant government departments to help combat waste crime.

In a report commissioned by the Environmental Services Association Education Trust and published earlier this month, the Eunomia consultancy said significantly increased funding for waste crime enforcement would result in long-term cost savings for the UK.

It calculated that every pound spent on enforcement would yield a return of as much as £5.60.

The ESA’s Hayler also called for provisions in the budget to help underpin infrastructure investment such as new tax allowances.

The call comes in the wake of recent plans unveiled by the government which indicated that waste infrastructure projects will need to prove themselves under market conditions and cannot rely on public sector investment.

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